by Mike Masnick
Tue, Apr 8th 2008 11:49pm
It appears Marilyn Monroe's estate didn't think all the way through its strategy of posthumously moving the famed star to New York. Apparently, her family convinced California tax authorities that Monroe had been a New York resident, in an attempt to avoid paying taxes on the estate in California. Unfortunately for the estate, that would also mean that Marilyn Monroe's publicity rights died with her. As Against Monopoly points out in the latest example of the bizarre effects of intellectual property rules, California allows "rights of publicity" to live on after death -- meaning that images of famous people still need to be licensed. However, New York says your right of publicity dies when you die. So, a court has now ruled that, thanks to Monroe's own estate claiming that she was a New Yorker, there's no longer a right of publicity for Monroe, and photographers who own Monroe photographs shouldn't have to pay her estate (as they've done since her death). This has photographers claiming that the estate has been unfairly demanding licenses for many years. Next time, perhaps Monroe's estate will just pay the taxes it owes. But, in the meantime, we get to see the bizarre impact of rules such as "publicity rights" which have forced photographers to pay to use photographs they took for many years.
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