We've talked a lot lately about the rise of "publicity rights"
as a new, and dangerous, area of the law that is being used to stifle forms of speech. The idea behind it was somewhat admirable. It was to prevent companies from pretending someone famous endorsed their product when they did not. But the law has been stretched and stretched and stretched in ridiculous ways with a series of ridiculous rulings. Thankfully, the courts don't always let the really ridiculous cases go forward, such as the case where Mark Brill claims that Disney/Pixar's movie Cars violated his publicity rights
, because he owns a racecar that looks similar to the lead character in the movie, Lightning McQueen (voiced by Owen Wilson). The article notes that "Apparently Brill is a big deal in the racing world and is closely associated with such a car." Of course, if he was that big of a deal, you would think that doing a Google image search for "Mark Brill, race car" would turn up some images. And I can't find any... Either way, the Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals has upheld a lower court's summary judgment against Brill, saying:
"a fictional, talking, driver-less red race car with the number 95 on it cannot be construed as a likeness of a driver of a similarly colored/numbered race car."
Nice to know there are some limits on publicity rights.