Right of Publicity

November 2000
by Lloyd L. Rich

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Lloyd RichLloyd Rich is an attorney practicing publishing and intellectual property law. He can be reached at 303-388-0291 or rich@sni.net.


The right of publicity is generally defined as an individual’s right to control and profit from the commercial use of their name, likeness, and persona, which shall be referred to in this article as the individual’s identity. Protecting the individual from the loss of commercial value resulting from the unauthorized appropriation of an individual’s identity for commercial purposes is the principle purpose of this body of law. Uniform federal law does not currently protect the individual’s right of publicity, but there have been increasing demands for a federal right of publicity law. Therefore, the right of publicity currently varies from state to state but either common law or statutory law in almost every state protects certain individuals from the unauthorized exploitation of their identity.

While in some states the right of publicity is only applicable to a celebrity or public personality, there are other states where the right of publicity applies to any individual. However, in a number of states, the individual’s right of publicity is only protected when the misappropriation of the individual’s identity has publicity value-meaning that the individual has previously commercially exploited their identity. States have also reached different conclusions regarding whether the right of publicity survives the death of an individual. Generally, in those states that permit survivability, it is only permitted for celebrities, but even these states differ on ho…IBPA Members – Click here to view the full article (login required).

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