What is Right of Publicity?

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  • Written By: Garry Crystal
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 18 January 2020
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If a person's image, likeness, name, or identity is used for commercial reasons, this would be an infringement against the right of publicity. For example, if a person's image is used to promote or advertise something without prior consent, then the person can sue using the Right of Publicity Act. The Right of Publicity Act can only be used if the image is used for some form of commercial gain or may harm the person's commercial value. If any gain is made by using a person's image or name to promote a product then court action can be taken. Although this mainly happens to famous people, anyone would have the right sue if this were to occur.

The Right of Publicity Act has no real time limit, as it even extends to the deceased. If the celebrity is deceased, then his or her estate and heirs have the right to sue using the Right of Publicity Act. There have been cases where a person's voice has been imitated, sometimes on talking greeting cards and the impersonators have been sued.


The right of publicity generally falls under the same guidelines as invasion of privacy. It came into place in order to give an individual some form of control over the use of their name and image. By doing so, the individual has control over who profits from their image and identity. Although the Right of Publicity Act varies from state to state, most of the legal guidelines are the same. There are certain circumstances where the right of publicity would not apply, for example, if the person's image were used in news reports or used in works of art. As long as no profit is made from the identity of the person and there is no harm to the person's commercial value, right of publicity should not apply.

The Right of Publicity law is broken every day by many people. Illegal and unauthorized images of celebrities are used to sell a great deal of products, as can be seen by the amount of fake goods that are sold outside of concerts. Any number of t-shirts, calendars and posters can be found to be breaking the Right of Publicity law. There are large amounts of money to be made and in many cases the culprits can make a quick exit if authorities are seen.


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Post 1

but what if you are using the celebrity photo to advertise their own concert? what if you are advertising a celebrity concert, using the celebrity's photo? you would gain from the sale of the ticket (through the affiliate program) and the celebrity would gain by getting more attendance and money at their concert. does this break the Right of Publicity? You gain and the celebrity would gain, but you would be using their photo to advertise a product (their concert).

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