Protecting Professional Athletes’ Personality Rights in Canada

Anna Loparco and Regan E. Dahl

©2016. Published in Landslide, Vol. 9, No. 2, November/December 2016, by the American Bar Association. Reproduced with permission. All rights reserved. This information or any portion thereof may not be copied or disseminated in any form or by any means or stored in an electronic database or retrieval system without the express written consent of the American Bar Association or the copyright holder.

To become a professional athlete requires a high level of skill and dedication. For the lucky few in Canada, this results in a chance to play at an elite level such as the National Hockey League (NHL), Canadian Football League (CFL), or in myriad other national and international sport leagues or competitions. These players not only become known for their exceptional athletic skills, but also are often seen as celebrities. We are in an age of massive consumerism and public idealization with professional athletes. Thus, their likeness, voice, and images, known collectively as their “personality rights,” can become a valuable commercial asset. Businesses and brands often seek to associate themselves with athletes and other celebrities so that they can use the fame of professional athletes to promote their products and increase sales. It is therefore important for athletes to protect their image early in their career and ensure that their images are not appropriated for endorsements or sponsorship without their consent.

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