Monday, June 26, 2017

NEW YORK V. CALIFORNIA (AND OTHER STATES) - DECEASED RIGHT OF PUBLICITY



Under Cal. Civ. Code § 3344.1, post-mortem publicity rights are available for seventy (70) years after death. The statue provides a cause of action for the unauthorized use of a “deceased personality’s” “name, voice, signature, photograph, or likeness” on products or merchandise, or for the purposes of advertising or promotion of such items.


This statute was enacted in part in response to Lugosi v. Universal Pictures, 603 P.2d 425 (Cal. 1979. The heirs of Béla Lugosi sued Universal Studios in 1966 for using his personality rights without the heirs' permission. The trial court ruled in favor of the Lugosi heirs, but Universal Studios won the case in an appeal. The court determined that a dead person had no right to his likeness, and any rights that existed did not pass to his heirs.

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