Right of Publicity

News & Analysis as of

Twitter Sued For Right of Publicity Violations Over Profile-Trading Game

A class action lawsuit was filed in California yesterday against Hey, Inc. and Twitter regarding Hey’s online trading game in which players collect profiles of (and use virtual currency to invest in) real-life people as if...more

Just Play the Game: Sixth Circuit Says Student-Athletes Have No Right of Publicity in Game Broadcasts

In a short, sharp opinion filed August 17, 2016, a three-judge panel on the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed dismissal of a class action lawsuit brought by ten former college athletes asserting they were entitled to...more

Faulkner v. Hasbro Inc. - USDC, D. New Jersey, July 21, 2016

District court denies toy company’s motion to dismiss right of publicity claim brought by Fox News anchor Harris Faulkner, holding that fact that hamster doll in defendant’s Littlest Pet Shop toy line bore plaintiff’s...more

Advertising Law - July 2016 #2

VW Will Pay $14.7B in Largest FTC False Ad Suit - Volkswagen made a $14.7 billion deal with the Federal Trade Commission, the Department of Justice, and the California Attorney General over charges that the auto...more

Julia Child Foundation Sues Airbnb for Using Her Name Without Permission

The charitable foundation representing the estate of famed chef, culinary author and TV personality Julia Child, has sued Airbnb because the company used Child’s name and likeness for a Memorial Day promotion without the...more

Airbnb Faces Suit for Using Julia Child’s Name in a Contest

Earlier this year, Airbnb ran a contest in which one winner could “come stay in the former home of Julia Child.” The company advertised that entrants could imagine themselves “walking the halls of Julia Child’s former home,”...more

Three Point Shot - June 2016

Showtime and Top Rank Slug It out over "Fight of the Century" - Who said boxing was dead? Fight fans still bitter over the May 2015 Floyd Mayweather–Manny Pacquiao bout that was far more mega-bore than mega-brawl...more

Till Death Do Us Part? How to Deal With Celebrity Publicity Rights When That Celebrity Passes

The tragic death of renowned recording artist Prince left many reminiscing about his meticulously crafted public image. In life, the law allowed Prince to control the commercial exploitations of his image.  At death, however,...more

‘The Autumn Wind’ and the Right of Publicity

As a child of the 60’s and 70’s and an insatiable NFL football fan, I can still hear the swaggering voice of narrator John Facenda in the now-iconic 1974 NFL Films production “The Autumn Wind,” which has been dubbed The...more

Hulk Hogan’s Legal Leg Drop Sets Precedent for Celebrity Journalism

Famed wrestler Hulk Hogan’s $140 million trial verdict against Gawker Media for publishing a tape of him having relations with his best friend’s wife and using racially offensive language, sends a clear message that despite...more

PRINCE Act Shelved by Minnesota Legislator

Last week we reported on the right of publicity bill being considered by the Minnesota legislature in light of the passing of musical icon, Prince. As reported by the Minneapolis Star Tribune on May 18, 2016, State...more

Sign O’ the Times: the Right of Publicity Comes to Minnesota

The ability to control the use of one’s name, likeness, voice, and other personal attributes is known as the right of publicity. Unlike trademarks, patents, and copyrights, which are types of intellectual property governed...more

The Ink Isn’t Dry

What rights based in copyright law does a tattoo artist have in a tattoo itself, and to what extent can an artist use those rights to restrict the rights of others, including the people whose skin has been inked?...more

The Right of Publicity: How Much Control Do NFL Players Have Over Their Names?

How much control should athletes have over their names? Not an unlimited amount, according to one recent court ruling. Late last month, in Dryer v. National Football League, the Eighth Circuit denied an appeal by three...more

Advertising Law - April 2016 #3

SPECIAL FOCUS: #Twitter at Ten: Ten Times Twitter Made Ad Law History - Ten years ago the world was introduced to Twitter, a microblogging site offering users the chance to express themselves just 140 characters at a...more

Linebacker Vs. Teddy Bear

Former NFL player Shawne Merriman’s company sued the Vermont Teddy Bear Company over the trademark “Lights Out” last week....more

NFL Players’ Right of Publicity Claims Denied - J. F. Dryer et al. v. The National Football League

The US Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit affirmed a district court summary judgment in favor of defendants, denying plaintiffs’ publicity rights claims in footage and interviews made by the defendants and finding that...more

First Amendment Prevents Right of Publicity Claim Arising from Film About “Issues of a Public Nature” - Sgt. Jeffrey S. Sarver v....

In a lawsuit involving the 2010 Oscar-winning film The Hurt Locker, the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit held that right of publicity claims arising from expressive works, including films, are in essence...more

Three Point Shot - March 2016

California Court to PGA Tour Caddies: You'll Get Nothing and Like It! As the full swing of the PGA season rounds the corner, and with the azaleas blooming at Augusta, the trusted confidants of golf's premier players...more

Right of Publicity Claim over Straight Outta Compton Gets Kicked Straight Outta Court

In August 2015, the film Straight Outta Compton was released. It’s a biopic about the struggles of several young African American males who formed the musical group “N.W.A.” back in the 1980s. ...more

Copyright and Trademark Case Review: FLANAX, Fishing Tackle, Football Players and More

Summaries of Recent Precedential and Informative Appellate Opinions - Trademark Opinions - Owners of Foreign Marks May Sue Under Lanham Act Without Using Marks in the US: Belmora LLC v. Bayer Consumer Care AG,...more

Straight Outta the Central District: The First Amendment Shields Straight Outta Compton Filmmakers from Misappropriation of...

The filmmakers of 2015’s Straight Outta Compton, the biopic chronicling the career of hip-hop sensation N.W.A., scored a key victory in the Central District of California last Wednesday in the case of Heller v. NBCUniversal,...more

Self-Publishing Platforms Deemed Distributors, Not Publishers in Privacy Suit over Unauthorized Book Cover

We live in a world that has rapidly redefined and blurred the roles of the “creator” of content, as compared to the roles of the “publisher” and “distributor” of such content. A recent case touches on some of the important...more

Hulk-Sized Damages in Sex Tape Privacy and Publicity Case

In 2006, Terry Gene Bollea, better known as “Hulk Hogan,” had sex with his best friend’s wife, Heather Clem. Apparently unbeknownst to either of them, his best friend Todd Alan Clem, now legally known as “Bubba the Love...more

U.S. Supreme Court Punts on Dispute Involving NFL Players’ Publicity Rights

The Supreme Court passed on an opportunity to review a recent appellate court decision holding that a video game publisher is not protected by the First Amendment for using the likenesses of former NFL football stars in the...more

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