Monday, January 15, 2007

Right of Publicity

From my weekly (AM) radio segment titled "Legal Minute".

We all have many rights in common. One of them is that we each have an individual right to control the use of our own name and likeness. This right is known as a right of publicity. The right of publicity allows us to prevent the use of our name or likeness for commercial purposes. For example, imagine as you walked down the street, you were stopped and asked by a major fast food chain if you would like a free burger in exchange for allowing the chain to take your smiling picture with the burger in hand. Then imagine that your picture was later used by the fast food chain in a nationwide TV ad campaign and all you got out of it was the free burger. In addition to being rather upset, you would have a right of publicity claim against the fast food chain. The right of publicity is often confused with our individual right of privacy. The two rights do intersect but they are not the same. The right of publicity gives us a property right in our identity. The right of privacy protects us if we suffer emotional harm from the publication of private facts that are embarrassing, intimate or portray us in a false light. If you believe that your rights have been infringed upon, seek advice of counsel about these issues.