It’s the time of year when we Americans honor the Stars and Stripes, but people all over the world get starry-eyed over celebrities. Recognizing this, advertisers like to use celebrity images in advertising. Recently, we wrote about Katherine Heigl’s $6 million lawsuit against Duane Reade for a tweet using her photo without her permission, and the blog got so many hits that we thought that we would dive deeper and look at a couple of the more interesting new developments in the U.S. and other countries on the issue of who has the right to use celebrity images or likenesses in advertising.
It should come as no surprise that a celebrity wants to control the right of third parties to use his or her likeness in advertising or commerce. A celebrity’s image is her brand, and that brand (sometimes regardless of any demonstrable skill) is what keeps her marketable to the public. Further, in the U.S., many states recognize personality rights, including the right of publicity—in other words, the right to keep one’s name and image from being commercially exploited without permission and/or compensation. With the growing popularity of social media, the ability of third parties to appropriate celebrity images and other intellectual property has expanded, but celebrities have been fighting back, a la Katie Heigl, in both the U.S. and in other countries and in sometimes unconventional ways.
For example, in France, Scarlett Johansson is suing a novelist for €50,000 alleging that his fictional work makes fraudulent characterizations about her life.
Continue Reading Don’t Let the Stars in Your Eyes Blind You to the Risks of Celebrity Ad Campaigns