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Suit by 1983 championship NC State team against NCAA, CLC may be one to watch

June 13, 2024 No Comments »
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With the rapid passage of various so-called “NIL” statutes in numerous states, it is perhaps inevitable that a claim will come along which may not be fully answered by the statutory provisions. Without speculating if that will be applicable in the following, I will note simply that the dynamics of the recently filed suit against the NCAA and Collegiate Licensing Company by players of the North Carolina State 1983 championship team, may be one to watch. Here’s a link with more information about the filing: Players from 1983 NC State team file suit against NCAA, CLC


The Right of Publicity and Scarlett Johannson’s response to ChatGPT Sky voice

May 21, 2024 No Comments »
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Details and context matter in Right of Publicity analysis. As a brief summary, OpenAI recently released its ChatGPT 4.0 with a chatbot voice (“Sky”) which Scarlett Johannson says is “eerily similar” to hers. We don’t know how the situation may get resolved, but the Right of Publicity provides a response. Apparently, an offer was made by OpenAI for Johannson to voice the ChatGPT 4.0 chat bot. Johannson declined. It may have seemed like a natural fit due to Johannson’s role in the movie Her in which she was the voice of an AI system. Perhaps that fit was so natural that on May 13, 2024 in proximity to the release, Sam Altman issued a one-word tweet: “her.” Past negotiations and this tweet could be the subject of considerable attention, as an example of why “details and context matter” when it comes to the Right of Publicity. The company has denied that Sky was meant to sound like Johannson, but these details could possibly indicate otherwise.

Here is a link to one of numerous articles providing more details: Scarlett Johannson ChatGPT voice that sounded like her


ELVIS Act amends Tennessee Right of Publicity law with AI provisions

March 29, 2024 No Comments »
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Tennessee’s Right of Publicity statute has been amended to provide broader provisions against artificial intelligence. Specifically, the amendment fortifies the concept of voice and the vulnerabilities AI could take advantage of if left unchecked.

Here is a link to the amendment: Tennessee ELVIS Act amendment

And here is a link to the Recording Academy’s announcement:
Recording Academy ELVIS Act announcement


US Supreme Court to consider Andy Warhol’s Prince Series in relation to copyright fair use and transformative test

April 14, 2022 No Comments »
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You can find information concerning the dispute between the Andy Warhol Foundation (AWF) and photographer Lynn Goldsmith elsewhere, such as the factual underpinnings, lower court rulings on the case to date, and the arguments on either side easily enough in other place. Given the recent acceptance of a writ of certiorari by the United States Supreme Court (SCOTUS), I will simply note a few details that could be interesting to watch from a Right of Publicity perspective.

First, it is interesting to consider that in Comedy III, the court specifically cited Warhol’s Marilyn as the example of a transformative work, in crafting and applying its transformative use test to the Right of Publicity. Often lost in discussion of the case and reference thereto, the rightsowners of the Three Stooges (Comedy III) won the case on Right of Publicity grounds in relation to the commercial activities that had occurred in relation to a charcoal sketch of the Three Stooges by the defendant. The original work of art itself was not really the issue, but rather, the activities connected to that work were found to constitute a Right of Publicity violation. The Judge carefully articulated a test for deciding such situations, thus advancing the transformative use test for Right of Publicity purposes.

In the Warhol dispute concerning Lynn Goldsmith’s Prince photograph, the issue is of a copyright nature. Still, it is interesting that in a notable prior case (Comedy III), Warhol’s Marilyn was cited as the example of a transformative use. Now, in the AWF / Goldsmith matter the very question of whether Warhol’s rendering of Prince is transformative takes center stage.

Second, in teaching Comedy III this semester after news of SCOTUS accepting AWF’s petition, a question was raised whether Warhol perhaps used a reference photo in creating his Marilyn work. The inquiry is intriguing, though perhaps only for academic reasons. Without knowing the specifics, it seems plausible that if Warhol used a reference work for creation of his Prince work, it is possible he did the same for creation of his Marilyn work. The implications, if so, can be considered elsewhere.

Third, it is important to note that the AWF Goldsmith matter to be decided by SCOTUS, with a decision expected sometime in 2023, ought to be confined to a copyright decision. Any Right of Publicity involved would be that of Prince, and it is assumed that the rightsowners of Prince’s publicity rights are not part of the matter. SCOTUS is good at keeping the issues it is considering confined to only that which is in front of the Court at that time. In other words, no matter what SCOTUS decides in the AWF Goldsmith matter, it is expected to be a copyright decision only.

Last, and despite the observation in the preceding paragraph, certain Right of Publicity tests and analytical constructs often borrow from the copyright realm. If the transformative use test happens to be recast or adjusted by SCOTUS, it would not be surprising to see future holdings considering the Right of Publicity in relation to a Comedy III-type transformative use test take into account what the Supreme Court finds in the Warhol Goldsmith matter concerning Warhol’s Prince series.


A few thoughts on Forbes’ annual top-earning dead celebrities list

November 17, 2020 No Comments »
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Departing from the usual Halloween release date, Forbes issued its annual top-earning deceased celebrities list on Friday, November 13th in 2020. A few takeaways, in no particular order:

1. Unsurprisingly, given the worldwide pandemic, almost all the reported numbers are down. Some may have more immunity than others, and those that went up, like Dr. Seuss were bolstered by television, movie and media deals. Some of that may be one-time bursts.
2. Elvis Presley was closing in on a 50% decline. Graceland, as a tourist destination, no doubt accounts for much of that given closures in 2020.
3. Prince is down yet again another year further from his death, as has been the trend. The summary on Prince mentions only music sales.
4. Those with the misfortune of making 2019’s list due to early departure, XXXTentacion and Nipsey Hussle, are gone.
5. Those with the misfortune of making 2020’s list due to early departure include Kobe Bryant and Juice WRLD. It will be interesting to see if Kobe Bryant is a one-time, one-year entrant or will make next year’s list as well.
6. Not-much-of-a-prediction: Eddie Van Halen will be on next 2021’s list. Though he passed away over a month prior to the release of the 2020 list, that is neither enough time to account increased sales, nor enough time to process his passing into a list that was no doubt already well underway in October.
7. The article includes a statement about its methodology, which includes sources I use when appropriate in valuations.

Last, a word about the often used term “delebrity” in relation to deceased celebrities. I get it, though it’s never really hit me as particularly clever or useful as a term. More importantly, no one I know who actually works with the heirs, family, and estates of notable deceased icons uses this term. It’s hard to take someone seriously who uses this term in their scholarship, publications, or writings. But keep using it, those who do, because it provides a revealing tell.

Here is a link to Forbes’ 2020 list: https://www.forbes.com/sites/maddieberg/2020/11/13/the-highest-paid-dead-celebrities-of-2020/?sh=37a974e03b4b&utm_source=Licensing+International+Database&utm_campaign=b3b89e5adb-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2019_12_18_01_57_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_ec0e484a60-b3b89e5adb-397655773&mc_cid=b3b89e5adb&mc_eid=a31363c945

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Mel Gibson and Miel Gibson honey

August 19, 2020 No Comments »
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I’ve seen some commentary on Mel Gibson’s issuance of a letter to the person behind a Chilean honey branded “Miel Gibson.”  Here’s a link to more coverage of the story:  https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-08-15/mel-gibson-threatens-to-sue-chilean-honey-maker-over-image-use/12562438

To date, the developments consist of a letter being issued.  No lawsuit has been filed.  The letter seems to indicate a willingness for the Chilean business person to continue to some extent, but requests his image be removed.  Reportedly, after the recipient shared the letter online, her social media grew “exponentially.”

There’s no question that the product name and packaging ties to Mel Gibson.  For those who don’t like the contents of or even issuance of the letter, I would ask “what would you advise be done?”


Licensing International Executive Voices article

May 6, 2020 No Comments »
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Here is a link to an article I wrote for Licensing International’s Executive Voices series:   https://licensinginternational.org/news/discernment-in-licensing-and-enforcement/

 


Dr. Fauci doughnuts

March 26, 2020 No Comments »
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A company in New York has begun offering “Dr. Fauci” doughnuts, which apparently involve edible paper on the doughnut with Dr. Fauci’s image printed on it.  Dr. Fauci has become a daily fixture in the coverage of the Covid-19 pandemic and a visible leader in the response and information concerning the outbreak.  Donuts Delite, the company selling the doughnuts on a nationwide basis, reportedly, will continue selling the doughnuts “as long as they are in demand.”  Here is a link to the story:  https://www.cnn.com/2020/03/26/us/dr-fauci-doughnuts-trnd/index.html   Dr. Fauci Doughnuts


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