Should It Be Against The Law To Say That The Watch You're Selling Was Worn By Sandra Bullock?
from the factual-information... dept
More recently, we wrote about Katherine Heigl suing Duane Reade for posting a photograph of her walking out of a Duane Reade drugstore with a bag from the store. As we noted at the time, this (like the above situation) was an accurate representation of reality -- and claiming you can't accurately say that she shops at Duane Reade when she does raises all sorts of questions.
Apparently, there are more and more of these kinds of lawsuits popping up all over the place. Sandra Bullock has just settled a lawsuit with jewelry vendors who accurately pointed out that that they were selling a "a diamond-encrusted, white-band watch" that Bullock's character had warn in The Blind Side. Bullock's lawyers pointed out that she didn't want to endorse the watch, and that's fair, but accurately pointing out that her character wore the watch in a movie is not an endorsement. The article notes that there's a similar lawsuit (using the same lawyers) involving Halle Berry, suing ToyWatch for $2 million for associating her with merchandise that she wore in films as well.
You can understand why these people are upset -- they see a company "using" their name and likeness for commercial reasons, but at the same time, how can it be illegal to make an accurate statement? If the characters did wear that jewelry, then there should be no issue. Once again, we're left in this mess because these publicity rights laws are way too overreaching, leading to attempts to stifle perfectly accurate speech. And, of course, there's the reality of the situation, which is that most of these lawsuits are really just about trying to get paid.