The Right of Publicity
All individuals have the right to authorize and control the promotion use of their name and identity. When it comes to celebrities with prominent public personas, the right of publicity is more prominent. Celebrities often pursue lawsuits for damages if they feel like their right was violated.
The right of publicity protects an individual’s name, identity, and likeness. Some of those most common violations are misappropriated forms of a name, voice, signature or photograph. In order for a lawsuit to be deemed viable, the individual’s likeliness must be identifiable and used for exploitative or commercial purposes.
When an individual’s right of publicity is violated, it is considered an intrusion of privacy. We see many cases of this violation appear in court because individuals are falsely portrayed to the public. Although we expect to see these cases predominantly celebrity related, all individuals have the right to protect their name and identity.
Commonly, photographs are used online to promote or market for commercial purposes. Photos of individuals can be used for advertising purposes. For the majority of people, these ads do not reflect their personal view. Without their authority, they are being associated with a specific commodity or activity. Celebrities often have their right of publicity violated on a regular basis. The most common is when their private photos are linked or their names associated with fictitious rumors.
If one can prove that their name, identity, picture, voice or likeness was exploited for commercial use (without their permission) they have the right to seek damages under the law. This is a statutory right of publicity. Damages are incurred based on financial harm and damage to the individual’s future earnings or public persona.