Rights of Publicity

Capitalizing upon the value of a unique image, brand, intellectual property, and other content is at the heart of the success of many modern brands. The right of publicity is a legal concept that refers to an individual’s right to control and benefit from the commercial use of their name, likeness, image, voice, or other aspects of their identity.

The right of publicity is recognized by many states, we well as in some foreign countries. The right even extends after death in certain states and is often controlled by the person’s heirs or estate. There is currently no federal right of publicity.

New York Recently Enacted a New Right of Publicity Law 

New York has codified the Right of Publicity under its Right of Privacy statute. The Right of Publicity is set forth in Sections 50-f and 51 of the state statutes.

The law reinforces the right of performers in New York to the reserved right of their image. These changes can impact how you are able to leverage your own personal brand content or how you are able to put other content to work for your brand.

The law further provides for a post-mortem right extending for 40 years after death. Though, to take advantage of the post-mortem protection, the rights of publicity must have already had commercial value at the time of the person’s death or the value was created due to the death. The law is not retroactive and only applies to those New Yorkers that passed after the law’s enactment.

California Publicity Law Differs From New York Publicity Law

Unlike New York, the state of California does not limit reserved image rights to performers and celebrities. California Civil Code §3344(a) states, in pertinent part, that “(a)ny person who knowingly uses another’s name, voice, signature, photograph, or likeness, in any manner, on or in products, merchandise, or goods, or for purposes of advertising or selling, or soliciting purchases of, products, merchandise, goods or services, without such person’s prior consent, or, in the case of a minor, the prior consent of his parent or legal guardian, shall be liable for any damages sustained by the person or persons injured as a result thereof.”

Additionally, California, like New York, recognizes the right of publicity post-mortem. Under California Civil Code §3344.1, the right extends for 70 years past death. Unlike New York, the California law is retroactive, meaning that it applies to any individuals who died even before it was enacted.

Your Publicity Lawyer Protects Your Interests and Supports Compliance

If someone is using your name, image, likeness, or other identifying characteristics without your permission, you may have a claim for infringement of your right of publicity. An example would be your photograph appearing on the label of a product without your permission.

If you are a business owner, it is important to understand the potential rights of publicity of your employees, clients, spokespersons, and other individuals’ name, likenesses, or other identifying characteristics that you use or want to use in connection with your commercial activities – such as for your advertising or on your website.

The capacity of individuals to leverage their personal brands, and the role of companies in capitalizing upon their value, is increasingly complex, and an informed right of publicity lawyer from the Law Office of Jenna F. Karadbil, P.C., can advocate for your best interests, whatever your involvement in publicity might be.

Consider Your Options with a Publicity Lawyer from JFK Law

We have operated in the entertainment and publicity space for many years and are available to consult on the unique needs of your business or personal enterprise. With the ongoing changes in digital marketing and the growing recognition of virtual property, it is helpful to have a publicity attorney on your team. To learn how we can help, give us a call at (646) 527-7323, or visit our site to schedule a consultation.