Posts Tagged ‘right of publicity’

For Prince’s name, perpetual posthumous protection?

In the aftermath of Prince’s death, lawyers representing the entertainer’s estate administrator have been pushing a posthumous right of publicity law in Minnesota. The proposed PRINCE Act (“Personal Rights In Names Can Endure”) would forbid the use of an individual’s name “in any medium in any manner” without consent, which critics say makes it a rare instance of a law that actually violates itself. [David Post/Volokh, Jacob Gershman/WSJ Law Blog]

“Target has right to sell Rosa Parks biographies, commemorative plaque”

In an important decision, the Eleventh Circuit has ruled that the Rosa Parks estate does not have the right to prevent the use of the likeness and words of the late civil rights leader in biographies and tribute material. While the “right of publicity” in privacy law, best known for enabling the estates of deceased entertainers to control commercialization of their identity, has not been applied so broadly as to prevent the publication of unauthorized biographies and discussions of historical figures, its exact bounds have been uncertain; the new decision makes clear that a broad range of discussion of figures and movements of public interest counts as protected speech that does not depend on survivors’ permission. [Eugene Volokh]

April 22 roundup

Estate of late D.C. mayor is suing his kidney donor

“One of Kim Dickens’ kidneys helped keep Marion Barry alive in 2008. But the late Ward 8 councilmember’s estate isn’t eager to return the favor, according to a new lawsuit filed against Dickens by widow Cora Masters Barry.” The suit says Dickens’ foundation continues to use the image of the late Washington mayor, sometimes nicknamed “Mayor-for-Life”, in its promotion despite demands that it stop doing so. “This looks to be the first fight over Barry’s estate, which otherwise left behind little in terms of assets.” [Washington City Paper]

December 2 roundup

  • “Lying to a Lover Could Become ‘Rape’ In New Jersey” [Elizabeth Nolan Brown/Reason, Scott Greenfield]
  • “A $21 Check Prompts Toyota Driver to Wonder Who Benefited from Class Action” [Jacob Gershman, WSJ Law Blog]
  • On “right of publicity” litigation over the image of the late General George Patton [Eugene Volokh]
  • HBO exec: “We have probably 160 lawyers” looking at film about Scientology [The Hollywood Reporter]
  • Revisiting the old and unlamented Cambridge, Mass. rent control system [Fred Meyer, earlier]
  • Lawyers! Wanna win big by appealing to the jurors’ “reptile” brain? Check this highly educational offering [Keenan Ball]
  • “Suit claims Google’s listings for unlicensed locksmiths harmed licensed business” [ABA Journal]

Statutes of limitation and the pancake box

The R.T. Davis Milling Co.’s Aunt Jemima brand of self-rising pancake mix was a big hit at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893, thanks in part to the efforts of Nancy Green, the first of a series of women hired (after auditions) to promote the established brand, which had been named after a vaudeville tune of the day. (It is now owned by Pepsico’s Quaker Oats subsidiary.) Green’s popularity in the role won her a lifetime contract with the company which ended with her death in 1923, but now, reports the Louisville Courier-Journal]:

a lawsuit claims that Green’s heirs as well as the descendants of other black women who appeared as Aunt Jemima deserve $2 billion and a share of future revenue from sales of the popular brand.

If courts are to take statutes of limitation seriously, it is hard to see why such a suit does not deserve sanctions. If on the other hand courts are to begin ignoring statutes of limitation, Quaker might want to check into the packaging on its round box of breakfast oats, lest the heirs of William Penn (1644-1718) get any ideas. (& Debbi Baker, San Diego Union-Tribune; Amy Alkon, Advice Goddess)