It is common knowledge that public personals, such as celebrities or well known, respected individuals have publicity rights. However, when it comes to the promotional use of someone’s name or brand, ALL individuals have the right to control the messaging. Publicity rights protect an individual’s identity, name, and likeliness. In this day in age, with the internet and social media names, voices, photographs, and signatures can be misappropriated. Commonly, celebrities likeness is used for commercial gains thus publicity rights protect exploitative practices.
When someone is falsely depicted and displayed to the public, it is deemed an intrusion of privacy: an individual’s rights are violated. These rights are not reserved for well-known individuals, they are there to protect everyone.
The most common violation of publicity is posting photographs online for commercial purposes. Marketing agencies or corporations will often lift photographs for advertising purposes without an individual’s consent. When these images are used, they often do not reflect the views of the people ACTUALLY pictured. They automatically become a spokesperson for an activity or commodity without consent.
If an individual can prove that their identity, likeness, name, etc has been used for commercial gain without their permission they can seek damages under the law. The statute right of publicity protects individuals from exploitation. Damages are calculated based on actual damages that one has suffered. These damages are related to financial harm and potential devastation to the public persona and future income.