As unpleasant as this topic is, it raises some interesting right of publicity questions. I recently served as an expert in an effort involving OJ Simpson’s right of publicity in satisfaction of judgment to the Goldmans, and the subsequent effort to repackage OJ’s book by Harper Collins, “If I Did It.” In relation to the Caylee Anthony situation, Florida law is the most likely publicity statute to apply. The Florida statute would appear to give Caylee’s heirs a basis to stop commercial uses. But what if a parent was involved in some form of wrongdoing? (Note: this is general academic inquiry, not specific to the matter in Florida). Florida’s statute provides a decedent’s heirs can constitute a class composed of a spouse or children of the deceased. For a deceased child, normally I would expect the parents of the child would have standing to assert a publicity claim. But if need be, I have to assume a court would be able to construct an alternative basis for administration of the child’s right of publicity rather than putting it in the hands of someone who harmed the child.
There also are “Son of Sam” statutes in most states that prevent a criminal from profiting from his or her crime, such as selling life story rights or authoring a book based on the violent crime.