Category Archives: Right of Publicity

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Indiana Supreme Court Finds Fantasy Sports Statistics Newsworthy In Right of Publicity Claim

Plaintiff-Appellants Akeem Daniels, Cameron Stingily, and Nicholas Stoner were collegiate student–athletes between 2014-2016.  Their on-field performances were collected as numerical statistics and published by various fantasy sports website operators including Defendants-Appellees DraftKings, Inc. and FanDuel, Inc.  For a fee, consumers could access detailed information such as Plaintiffs’ names, images, and statistics, assess the athletes’ weekly … Continue Reading

California’s Revenge Porn Statutes

Several members of the University of Central Florida chapter of the Delta Sigma Phi fraternity were recently sued, along with the fraternity itself, by a woman claiming that the fraternity operated a secret Facebook group where members uploaded images and video of private sexual encounters for other fraternity members to see.  The case is Kathryn … Continue Reading

No SpielBurgers for you! Steven Spielberg Shuts Down Unauthorized Use of His Name

Last week, Carl’s Jr. announced that in honor of Steven Spielberg’s new movie, Ready Player One, they would change the name of their Charbroiled Sliders to “SpielBurgers.” They tweeted: “@StevenSpielberg hasn’t signed off yet, but we’re pretty sure he’ll be down with it.” In fact, Spielberg was not down with it. He posted a video … Continue Reading

Airbnb Faces Suit for Using Julia Child’s Name in a Contest

Earlier this year, Airbnb ran a contest in which one winner could “come stay in the former home of Julia Child.”  The company advertised that entrants could imagine themselves “walking the halls of Julia Child’s former home,” and “channeling the culinary genius of Julia Child,” while “combing over the knick knacks in her kitchen exactly … Continue Reading

Significant Practical Reasons For Entering A Life Rights Agreement May Exist, But It May Not Be Necessary From A Legal Perspective

Real life stories are often produced with the acknowledgment and encouragement of their subjects, who are compensated in exchange for entering into what are known as life rights agreements. However, obtaining permission from every real person involved in the making of the work may not be feasible. In the article “Rights to Life,” published in … Continue Reading

Straight Outta the Central District: The First Amendment Shields Straight Outta Compton Filmmakers from Misappropriation of Likeness Claim

The filmmakers of 2015’s Straight Outta Compton, the biopic chronicling the career of hip-hop sensation N.W.A., scored a key victory in the Central District of California last Wednesday in the case of Heller v. NBCUniversal, Inc. et al.  The filmmakers were sued last year by Gerald Heller, N.W.A.’s former manager, who claimed (among other things) that … Continue Reading

Eighth Circuit Tells Former NFL Players: Your Right Of Publicity Claims Are Preempted By The Copyright Act

The Eighth Circuit recently rejected three former NFL players’ appeal of a district court’s dismissal of their right of publicity claims, among other claims, in John Frederick Dryer, et al. v. The National Football League.  John Frederick Dryer, Elvin Lamont Bethea, and Edward Alvin White were part of a putative class action in which twenty-three former … Continue Reading

Storytellers and Artists Rejoice: The Hurt Locker Is Fully Protected By The First Amendment

The Hurt Locker, which won Best Picture at the 2010 Academy Awards, follows Sergeant First Class William James (played by Jeremy Renner) in his role as a team leader of a U.S. Army Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) unit in Iraq, during the Iraq War. Sergeant Jeffrey Sarver, who served as an actual EOD technician in … Continue Reading


On September 4, 2015, a long running legal battle over the right to use footage from a 1972 concert by Aretha Franklin took a twist right out of a Hollywood movie when the Queen of Soul sought, and was granted, a temporary restraining order preventing a screening of the documentary film Amazing Grace at this … Continue Reading

Michael Jordan Testifies He Doesn’t Do Deals For Less Than $10 Million: Jury Awards Him $8.9 Million In Lawsuit Over Use Of His Likeness In Ad For $2 Coupon Off Steak

A jury awarded Michael Jordan $8.9 million this week after he testified he doesn’t do deals for less than $10 million and he would never have done a deal with the grocery store chain Dominick’s Finer Foods, LLC, as it wasn’t in line with his carefully crafted public image.  The lawsuit was brought by Jordan … Continue Reading

Do Not Mess With Michael Jordan And His Right Of Publicity

After Michael Jordan was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in September of 2009, Sports Illustrated ran a special issue to commemorate Jordan’s achievement and celebrate his career.  The issue was to be sold in stores, rather than through subscriptions, and certain stores were offered space in the issue in exchange for offering copies … Continue Reading

Arkansas Narrowly Avoids Enactment Of Sweeping Publicity Rights Statute

Yesterday, Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson vetoed Senate Bill 79.  Governor Hutchinson noted that, while the intent of the bill was to “protect the names, voices, signatures, photographs and likenesses of the citizens of [Arkansas] from exploitation and unauthorized commercial use without the citizen’s consent,” the language of the bill extended likeness protection too far, unnecessarily … Continue Reading

Your Right Of Publicity: You Can Take (It All) With You

Numerous news outlets reported today that late actor Robin Williams bequeathed the rights to his name, signature, photograph and likeness to the Windfall Foundation, a charitable organization, but with a noteworthy twist – Williams restricted the exploitation of his right of publicity for 25 years after his death.  In light of this apparent wholesale restriction, there … Continue Reading

Join Kelley Drye at the ABA Forum on Communications Law – February 5-7 in Scottsdale, Arizona

The American Bar Association will present the 20th Annual Conference of the ABA Communications Law on February 5-7, 2015, in Scottsdale, Arizona. The conference is geared towards attorneys and professionals in the entertainment, broadcast, online and mobile media, and telecommunications industries. Partner David Fink is on the faculty of the 2015 Media Advocacy Workshop, which … Continue Reading

Transforming the Transformative Use Defense? Ninth Circuit Issues Ruling in Davis v. Electronic Arts

In October of last year, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge William Fahey granted video game publisher Activision Blizzard, Inc.’s motion to strike the complaint filed by former Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega, in which the currently imprisoned Noriega claimed that Activision’s depiction of him in the popular video game Call of Duty: Black Ops II violated … Continue Reading

The Price Of Fame: An Overview Of Right of Publicity Claims (Part I)

Right of publicity claims are on the rise, with plaintiffs such as the heirs of “Aunt Jemima,” Arnold Schwarzenegger, and former Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega all filing such claims in the past year. Many of these claims are downright ridiculous, such as Noriega’s recent failed attempt to obtain payment from video game publisher Activision Blizzard Inc. … Continue Reading