Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Right of Publicity Update

USA Today had a story this week on the ongoing battle over posthumous rights of publicity. It begins: "The use of Marilyn Monroe's iconic face to sell merchandise has prompted her only heir to push for laws giving estates of deceased celebrities sole control over marketing their famous personas. The feud is playing out in New York and California. It pits the rights of estates to approve any use of the celebrity's image against the First Amendment right to use images and words of famous people for purposes such as research and art." And it includes this summary of the legislative state of play:

"In New York, the right to market the images dies with the celebrity. A bill to hand estates power over the images stalled .... The bill likely will be reintroduced.

"In California, where lawmakers are more sympathetic to entertainment industry issues, newly passed legislation clarifies and expands a state law that allows estates to control the marketing of deceased celebrities' images. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has not said whether he will sign the bill."