Deceased comedian and Saturday Night Live alum Chris Farley is at the center of a controversy concerning the use of a Farley clip in a DirecTV advertisement. The advertisement involves a clip from the movie “Tommy Boy.” Critics allege the ad is in poor taste.
The ad deviates from being simply a movie clip when new footage of Spade involves his pitch for DirecTV. “Great, I’m here with tons of fun, but I could be at home with DirecTV” Spade says.
The right of publicity exists in no small part to ensure that, at the very least, those decisions can be made by the heirs and not the public at large.
I am reminded of a television ad for GMC trucks, involving a still image of Rosa Parks along with many other personalities and images, such as Martin Luther King Jr., a former President, Neil Armstrong, as well as iconic images from U.S. history. Shortly thereafter, an op-ed ran in the New York Times stating that it was inappropriate for Rosa Parks to be hawking trucks.
The decision to license the image of Rosa Parks was carefully considered by those charged with that responsibility. Ultimately, permission was granted because the use was deemed tasteful, not derogatory to Rosa’s legacy, and a meaningful source of needed-funding for The Raymond and Rosa Parks Institute for Self-Development.
The New York Times writer did not point to any other rightsowners included to the same extent in the spot.
Here is a link to the Farley story: http://www.cnn.com/2009/SHOWBIZ/TV/10/27/farley.directtv.commercial/index.html