Misappropriation of likeness and the right of publicity

| Jul 5, 2019 | Licensing |

Marketing is ubiquitous in society nowadays. Social media, targeting online marketing, and massive television campaigns are commonplace. Oftentimes, companies utilize endorsements to help sell their products and services. However, since access to information about individual’s is easy to obtain in today’s world, these companies often misappropriate likenesses and violate rights of publicity.

The misappropriation of one’s name or likeness occurs when a personal attribute, such as one’s name or personal appearance, are utilized without that individual’s permission. In order to succeed on a claim for such misappropriation, certain legal elements must be shown. First, it must be demonstrated that permission was not given for the use, then that some protected aspect of one’s name or appearance was used. Third, the party that misappropriated the name or likeness must have done so to his or her benefit.

Those who have a level of fame or celebrity also have a right of publicity. Though similar, this differs from misappropriation in that the right to publicity can be licensed and typically pertains to uses for financial gain. Therefore, a celebrity can license his or her name for use in the marketing of a product, or that license may be assigned or sold to another party. This right can last long after a celebrity is deceased, too.

There are some appropriations of names and likenesses that are exempt from liability. For example, the use of one’s name or likeness for news reporting purposes is justified. This pertains to television, online, and print news sources.

One’s name and likeness can prove quite valuable. This is why it is important to protect those rights as fully as possible. To learn more about how to do so through licensing, individuals can reach out to an entertainment law professional of their choosing.

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