Sunday, December 28, 2014

Right Of Publicity (The More Famous You Are, The Fewer Your Rights)

Authors are usually liable for what they write about living or deceased people, hence the disclaimers in the front matter of works of fiction, often saying something to the effect that "this is a work of fiction....names, characters, titles and incidents are the product of the author's imagination... any resemblance to any real person living or dead is purely coincidental..."

However, one cannot rely on ones own good taste and discretion, any more than one can rely on a front matter disclaimer to protect oneself. Know the law, and know that the law is not the same in every State or country.

I'd like to share a couple of links to some very enlightening legal analyses on the exploitation of the famous, with kudos to the Drye Wit blog, and lawyers Audrey Jing Faber and Lee S. Brenner

Part 1
Defenses and limitations of claims, and examples of successful Right of Publicity claims.

Part 2
"A person’s right to control the use of his or her name or likeness, however, has its limits. In the context of expressive works, a person’s right to control the use or portrayal of his likeness diminishes as the person’s celebrity or public figure status increases."

Mr. Noriega lost his lawsuit against Activision-Blizzard for the use of his name and likeness in a game; some student athletes won a large settlement in their class action over a game maker's use of their likenesses; one wonders what would happen if a certain North Korean political leader were to sue Sony.

Happy New Year!

Rowena Cherry

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