ANA Opposes Right of Publicity Bills in New York State Legislature

The Association of National Advertisers (ANA) today strongly urged members of the New York State Senate to oppose bills moving through the legislature that would make substantial revisions in the current statutory right of publicity as embodied in New York Civil Rights Law. S.5857A and A.8155 would massively expand the scope of the current law to allow heirs of anyone in the world to assert an action for payment, even if the decedent had never worked or lived in New York State. ANA’s letter stated that the bills would subject “all national advertising campaigns to potential suit within the state, regardless of where the decedent was domiciled. The threat of litigation could chill advertising, and therefore business, within the state.”     

“These bills would establish a complex registry system that allows anyone in the world to assert a claim for the use of an individual’s name, voice signature, or likeness in New York State,” said Dan Jaffe, Group Executive Vice President of Government Relations for ANA. “The bills go far beyond similar right of publicity laws in other states and would lead to New York courts being inundated with claims asserted by those with no connection to the state.”

Jaffe stated: “These bills are opposed not only by advertisers but also by the New York State Broadcasters, the Motion Picture Association of America and six major motion picture and television stations. They would make major changes in the state’s right of publicity regime without any hearings or meaningful consideration. So long as an estate pays a $50 registration with the New York Secretary of State, they would have the right for 40 years to litigate against a marketer, broadcaster or media outlet even though the deceased person never set foot in the state.”

Jaffe concluded: “These bills would cause serious harm to the marketing and media communities and we have strongly urged that they not pass.”