When looking at entertainment law, individuals are endowed with certain rights. As we have discussed previously on this blog, those who create artistic works are instilled with copyright protection.
Trademark and patent protections may also be available to an individual depending upon the circumstances and work at hand. Another right that individuals possess is the right to not have other unfairly profit form their likeness without their consent. These are sometimes referred to as personality rights.
This latter group of rights is the focus of recent lawsuits filed by celebrities against the makers of the hit videogame Fortnite. Alfonso Ribeiro, best known for playing Carlton on the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air television show, is one of those celebrities taking legal action. He claims that the videogame makers have profited off of his likeness by exploiting his creative expression, that being a particular dance that Ribeiro first started in 1991 and later performed on Dancing with the Stars. The actor’s legal team says that Ribeiro is in the process of registering the dance for a formal copyright.
Taking the matter further, the actor claims that the game’s makers are giving the false impression that the actor endorses the game by utilizing his dance. Two other celebrities have filed similar lawsuits, and all are seeking damages. It’s likely that these matters may settle out of court, as Fortnite is the most popular videogame at present with 80 million players in August alone. The game’s makers may therefore find it more beneficial to simply pay an agreed upon sum without making too much noise that could otherwise disrupt the game’s popularity and profitability.
This case goes to show, though, that entertainment law issues can arise in a number of ways, sometimes in unexpected ways. This is why it is often crucial to police one’s entertainment rights. Failing to do so, or finding legal violations and failing to take action can result in lost revenues and a diminished reputation, as others can essentially steal one’s work. For these reasons, those dealing with these types of issues should think about discussing such matters with a skilled legal professional.