What is a right of publicity claim?

The right of publicity is a claim that you have used someone’s name or likeness to your commercial advantage without consent and resulting in injury. The plaintiff generally must prove that you’re using their image or likeness for advertising or other solicitations. Freedom of speech rights protect your use of a public figure’s name and likeness in a truthful way, but you can still be liable if a court determines that your use implied a false endorsement. Here are a few examples of cases where the right of publicity was at odds with the Constitution.

  • A newspaper’s 900 number survey to determine the favorite New Kid on the Block was found to be a constitutionally protected use of the band member’s name
  • A newspaper’s sale of a poster reproduction of its front page depicting Joe Montana was determined to merit protection under the First Amendment.
  • A commercial featuring a robot resembling game show hostess Vanna White was found to infringe her right of publicity.

If you have questions or concerns in this regard, feel free to contact BK Nation Editorial Director Michael.

Posted in: Questions About the Right of Publicity

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