RIP to the ROP - For Now

June 25, 2018

In an important victory for the marketing community, the New York State Legislature adjourned last week without passing legislation making major changes to the state’s right of publicity (ROP) laws. Bills were introduced in both the Assembly and the Senate to massively expand the scope of the law, which protects against the unauthorized use of a person’s identity for commercial purposes. The bills would have allowed 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 would merely need to register these rights for a nominal fee of $100 and then could assert a claim against the use of an individual’s name, picture, voice, or “persona” in an ad.  

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 new law.  

Obviously, this would be extremely detrimental to the advertising and marketing community, which has a significant presence in New York. We worked closely with our industry friends, including the New York State Broadcasters Association and the Motion Picture Association of America, to lay out our issues with the bills.  Assembly Majority Leader Joseph Morelle was able to push his bill through the Assembly, but pressure from a broad range of marketing and media groups was successful in blocking the Senate bill from moving before adjournment. 

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