Right of Publicity First Amendment

News & Analysis as of

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

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

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

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

Hulk Hogan Wins Big Verdict

In what might be a cautionary tale of the privacy risks for organizations who do business in buying and selling information, last Friday, a Florida jury awarded Hulk Hogan, whose true name is Terry Bollea, $115 Million in...more

Former NFL Players’ Right of Publicity Claims Get Sidelined—Will We Hear From The Replay Officials?   

In Dryer v. The National Football League, three former gridiron gladiators who played in the NFL had their claims for right of publicity under state law tossed out by the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. These three players...more

Rosa Parks Name and Likeness Free for Use? (Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self Development v. Target Corp.)

Addressing the balance between privacy rights and matters of public interest, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court’s dismissal of the plaintiff’s complaint, holding that the defendant...more

Ninth Circuit Finds First Amendment Protects Against Right Of Publicity Claim Involving Film “The Hurt Locker”

The Ninth Circuit has confirmed that right of publicity claims purporting to arise from expressive works, like films, are content-based restrictions on speech that are presumptively unconstitutional, and generally should not...more

Sarver v. Chartier (USCA, Ninth Circuit, February 17, 2016 )

Ninth Circuit affirms district court’s dismissal of Army sergeant’s lawsuit alleging that main character in film “The Hurt Locker” was based on his experiences without his consent, holding that film spoke to issues of public...more

Litigation Alert: Hurt Locker Decision Clarifies Differences in First Amendment Interests and Personal Interests Protected by the...

The Ninth Circuit affirmed the right of filmmakers and writers to use the story of Army Master Sgt. Jeffrey Sarver, an Army bomb disposal technician in Iraq, in the creation of the film The Hurt Locker. Sarver v. Chartier, 16...more

Ninth Circuit Shoots Down Right of Publicity Lawsuit Involving Academy Award Juggernaut The Hurt Locker

As we kick off “Oscar Week” here at TheTMCA.com, it is particularly apropos to discuss a decision just handed down by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals involving the critically acclaimed movie, The Hurt Locker. It is a...more

Storytellers and Artists Rejoice: The Hurt Locker Is Fully Protected By The First Amendment

The Hurt Locker, which won Best Picture at the 2010 Academy Awards, follows Sergeant First Class William James (played by Jeremy Renner) in his role as a team leader of a U.S. Army Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) unit in...more

Sue-per Bowl Shuffle II: The Year in NFL-Related Intellectual Property Litigation

Around this time last year, I started worrying about what would happen if someone at a Super Bowl party asked me to explain an NFL-related lawsuit, particularly one of those IP-ish lawsuits that I’m supposed to know about. So...more

Billy Mitchell v. The Cartoon Network Inc. - USDC, New Jersey, November 23, 2015

District Court grants Cartoon Network’s motion to dismiss right of publicity claim brought by plaintiff, well-known figure in video-gaming community and antagonist in documentary film The King of Kong, finding that cartoon...more

Advertising Law - October 2015 #4

Eleventh Circuit Rejects Application of VPPA to Free App - The latest decision interpreting the application of the Video Privacy Protection Act in the context of twenty-first century technology provides positive news for...more

Entertainment and Media Litigation Update - October 2015

The "Dancing Baby" Case—Ninth Circuit Rules That "Fair Use" Must First Be Considered Before Sending Takedown Notices Under the DMCA - Why it matters: On September 14, 2015, the Ninth Circuit ruled in Lenz v. Universal...more

Social Media Brings the Right of Publicity to the Masses

Do you consider yourself famous? If the answer is no, then you have likely never been concerned with the invasion of your right of publicity. The right of publicity is the right of a person in his or her identity—name or...more

Aretha Franklin Is Looking For A Little Respect From Telluride And Toronto Film Festivals

On September 4, 2015, a long running legal battle over the right to use footage from a 1972 concert by Aretha Franklin took a twist right out of a Hollywood movie when the Queen of Soul sought, and was granted, a temporary...more

Silvero v. Fox Television Studios, Inc., et al. - Los Angeles Superior Court, August 6, 2015

Frank Silvero, an actor who played the character Frankie Carbone in the film “Goodfellas” and other similar mobster characters during his career, filed suit against Fox Television alleging that the writers of the animated...more

Right of Publicity Claims by Athletes Nearly Shut Out in 2015

When we published our Sue-per Bowl post, 2015 looked like it would be a good year for right of publicity claims brought by athletes. On January 6, 2015, the Ninth Circuit in Davis v. Electronic Arts held that the First...more

Michael Jordan Defends His Right to Remain in Court to Protect His Likeness

On March 19, 2015, Wilson Elser published “Michael Jordan Denied Summary Judgment on His Right of Publicity Claim against Illinois Grocer,” an Alert concerning a case in which Michael Jordan was denied summary judgment on his...more

Instagram for Sale: Artist Richard Prince’s New Portraits Sparks Controversy

In the past week, several news outlets and social media channels have been buzzing about artist Richard Prince’s exhibit New Portraits, which first debuted at the Gagosian Gallery on September 19, 2014 and was reborn with...more

Rights in Bob Marley's name and likeness trump free speech where defence not properly pleaded | World Trademark Review

Fifty-Six Hope Road is a company run by some of Bob Marley's children, and it owns the property rights to Bob Marley's name, voice and likeness. Hope Road licensed Zion Rootswear the exclusive right to use Marley's name and...more

Stacy Allen Speaks: The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly: Unpopular Celebrities And The Right Of Publicity

In retrospect, the victories won by former college football stars in their right of publicity lawsuits against Electronic Arts and its hugely popular NCAA Football videogame franchise are hardly surprising. How could anyone...more

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