Life Story Rights: What's Possible and What's Not


Pryor Cashman partner Steve Rodner has written an article on the legalities and potential pitfalls in acquiring life story rights for film, television and theatre. The article, entitled “Life Story Rights: What’s Possible and What’s Not,” was recently published in The Hollywood Reporter, Esq., the weekly entertainment law newsletter of The Hollywood Reporter.

Among other things, the article discusses two landmark cases, both of which were handled by Pryor Cashman:

Rogers v. Grimaldi, MGU/UA, 695 F. Supp. 794 (S.D.N.Y. 1988), aff’d, 875 F.2d 994 (2d Cir. 1989): Won dismissal of Lanham Act and publicity claims against Fellini film Ginger and Fred on First Amendment grounds. This case has become the seminal decision on trademark/First Amendment conflict.

Seale v. Gramercy Pictures, 964 F. Supp. 918 (E.D. Pa. 1997), aff’d without op., 156 F.3d 1225 (3d Cir. 1998) and 949 F. Supp. 331 (E.D. Pa. 1996): Won trial and subsequent appeal on claims for false light invasion of privacy, right of publicity and Lanham Act violations brought by former chairman of Black Panther Party against producers of motion picture Panther; additional claims previously dismissed on summary judgment.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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