May 01, 2013 Intellectual Property Law

The Right of Publicity and the Social Media Revolution

Lynne M. J. Boisineau

What does it mean to be a celebrity? There was a time when the answer to that question was clear to most people. However, the technology boom changed all of that, and the laws regarding the protection of a person’s name, portrait, picture, likeness, or voice have struggled to keep up with the evolving media in which these types of intellectual property can be exploited. With this expanded notion of “celebrity” come unique challenges in striking a balance between, on the one hand, these individuals’ rights to protect their names/images and capitalize on the exploitation of same during the frequently short length of time that they are “famous,” and, on the other hand, the First Amendment protections afforded to those reporting newsworthy events or using someone’s name/likeness for purposes of criticism or commentary.

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