Tag: Copyright Preemption

Sacha Baron Cohen Sues Over Unauthorized Ad Campaign

Earlier this week, film and television actor Sacha Baron Cohen and his company, Please You Can Touch, sued Solar Therapeutics in district court in Massachusetts for the unauthorized use of his likeness, Borat character, and the character's catch-phrase in a billboard advertisement for a cannabis company.  The complaint sets forth claims for a right of publicity violation...

Coca-Cola Wins Round II as California Appellate Court Reverses Massive Jury Award

The California Court of Appeal for the Fourth District reversed an almost $10 million jury award against Coca-Cola in Hansen v. Coca-Cola Company in a recent unpublished decision. The dispute arises out of the Hansen’s sodas and juice brand (now owned by Coca-Cola) and a trust composed of the real Hubert Hansen’s descendents who claim...

Mixed Victory for Jackson Estate in Tax Court

On May 3rd, the U.S. Tax Court issued the long-awaited decision in the long-running litigation over the estate taxes owed by the Michael Jackson estate. In a sweeping 253-page opinion (with additional appendices) the Tax Court, clearly cognizant that this opinion will likely be read by many more people than the usual tax decision, quotes...

50 Cent’s Right of Publicity Claim Preempted by Copyright Law

Earlier this week, the Second Circuit, in an opinion penned by Judge Pierre Leval, held that a right of publicity claim by rap artist Curtis James Jackson III, better known as 50 Cent, was preempted by federal copyright law. The claim was brought under Connecticut law and arose out of Jackson’s objection to the use...

U. S. Copyright Office Considers a Federal Right of Publicity

In a report issued on April 23rd by the Register of Copyrights, the U.S. Copyright Office suggests that the lack of uniformity in state right of publicity laws may require Congressional intervention. The call for Congress to consider such a right arose in the course of a 107-page report issued by the office on the...

Court Allows Players’ Case Against Madden Video Game to Proceed

The summer did not end well for Electronic Arts (EA), as a district court rejected its summary judgment motion in Davis v. Electronic Arts, allowing the right of publicity claims under California's common law to proceed. The claims arise out of the alleged use of real NFL players' identities as avatars in the Madden NFL...

New York Right of Publicity Bill Resurrected Again

Once again as the New York legislature nears the end of its term for the year, the Assembly is trying to push through an ill-thought-out right of publicity bill without allowing for hearings and public debate on the bill. An amended version of the bill was introduced yesterday. The amended version suffers from most of...

Fox Moves for a TKO in Lawsuit Brought by Muhammad Ali Estate

Earlier this week Fox filed motions for judgment on the pleadings and an Anti-SLAPP motion to strike in the case brought last fall against it for airing a tribute to the recently deceased boxing great Muhammad Ali before its broadcast of the 2017 Superbowl. I previously expressed the view that the lawsuit should be tossed...

Whitney Houston Estate Settles with IRS over Right of Publicity Valuation

The Whitney Houston estate and the IRS have settled their dispute over the value of the Grammy award-winner’s estate. The more than $11 million dollar disagreement in the amount of taxes owed centered on the valuation of Houston’s intellectual property rights, and particularly the value of her postmortem right of publicity. The estate had claimed...

Major Victory for Fantasy Sports against College Athletes

Last week while a California trial court let the right of publicity run roughshod over the First Amendment in a case involving a docudrama, an Indiana district court in Daniels v. Fanduel rejected the right of publicity claims brought by former NCAA football players, Akeem Daniels, Cameron Stingily, and Nicolas Stoner against fantasy sports leagues...