Even the dead have publicity rights. Don’t put images of famous people on your labels without their permission… or their estate’s.

“[W]hen an artist’s work has touched people so significantly, there are often usurpers that want to capitalize on that connection. A strong brand attracts parasites that attempt to create profits through no work of their own, based on the popularity of and love for an artist.”

Strong words from this complaint recently filed by Biggie’s estate against the company that makes Yes snowboards. The estate claims that the company sold items utilizing an image if Biggie without obtaining the estates permission.

The image cited in the complaint is that of Biggie in front of the World Trade Center from 1996. Additionally, an online search also shows that there were other products made by Yes that utilized likenesses of Biggie – like these boards:

Snowboards featuring the likeness of Tupac and Biggie

The Takeaway: You may be the biggest fan in the world, but your products profit from the use of someone’s likeness regardless of whether you’re just doing it as an homage. Estates can and to control the right of publicity and have standing to sue for unauthorized use of a person’s likeness. This can go on for a long time as under many state right of publicity statutes even grandchildren have rights to control the use of a person’s likeness. So before you go putting your favorite person’s likeness on your beverage, do some clearance work and get a license or a release.

Ashley Brandt

Hi there! I’m happy you’re here. My name is Ashley Brandt and I’m an attorney in Chicago representing clients in the Food and Beverage, Advertising, Media, and Real Estate industries. A while back I kept getting calls and questions from industry professionals and attorneys looking for advice and information on a fun and unique area of law that I’m lucky enough to practice in. These calls represented a serious lack of, and need for, some answers, news, and information on the legal aspects of marketing and media. I've got this deep seeded belief that information should be readily available and that the greatest benefit from the information age is open access to knowledge... so ... this blog seemed like the best way to accomplish that. I enjoy being an attorney and it’s given me some amazing opportunities, wonderful experiences, and an appreciation and love for this work. I live in Chicago and work at an exceptional law firm, Goldstein & McClintock, with some truly brilliant people. Feel free to contact me at any time with any issues, comments, concerns… frankly, after reading this far, I hope you take the time to at least let me know what you think about the blog and how I can make it a better resource.

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1 Response

  1. April 9, 2019

    […] post Even the dead have publicity rights. Don’t put images of famous people on your labels without … appeared first on Libation Law […]

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