Right of Publicity Redux

June 8, 2018

Once again, the New York state legislature is considering major changes to the state’s right of privacy and right of publicity statutes. The legislation (A.8155-B) is sponsored by New York Assembly Majority Leader Joseph Morelli. In an unprecedented approach, this legislation would allow right of publicity claims to be asserted for the estates of decedents for a period of 40 years, even if the decedent never had any ties to or lived in New York. Successors in interest to an estate merely need to register these rights for a nominal fee of $100 and then can assert a claim against the use of an individual’s name, picture, voice, or “persona” in an ad.  

Obviously, this would be extremely detrimental to the advertising and marketing community, which has a significant presence in New York. We are working with our industry friends, including the New York State Broadcasters Association, to lay out our issues with the bill. We have written a letter to the sponsors today that highlights our concern over this vast expansion of the right of publicity, reaching far beyond the borders of New York. The threat of litigation could have a serious impact on how advertisers reach customers in New York and elsewhere, and could also overburden the already stretched New York court system with an avalanche of claims allowed under the law. At the very least, we are urging the legislature to add a domicile requirement to the legislation. It is also unclear who must register and who is exempt from the legislation, exposing those who are attempting to comply with the statute to litigation in state court.

To view our letter, please click here.

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