Yet Another Attempt To Expand Publicity Rights Rejected
from the phew dept
We've talked a few times recently about continued attempts to broaden the rather questionable concept of "publicity rights." The original idea behind publicity rights were to stop a company from using a famous person's name or likeness without permission in a way to suggest they endorsed the product. I can understand why that would seem desirable, but it opens up so many questionable unintended consequences that it becomes troubling pretty quickly. Quite frequently, we see attempts to use publicity rights to stop perfectly legitimate uses of a likeness just because someone doesn't like how it was used.
In a recent case, a Cuban author sued over his name and images being used on a TV show and also on clips of that show that were uploaded to YouTube. The good news is that the court seems to have quickly realized that this claim has nothing to do with what publicity rights are supposed to cover. The judge points out that publicity rights don't mean a TV show can't use your name or image. It's only supposed to prevent the idea that you endorsed some product that you did not. And having the guy's name and image on a television program doesn't suggest he's endorsing anything.
It's good to see courts rejecting ridiculous publicity rights claims, but as we see more and more of these, it's only a matter of time until a judge makes a big mistake.