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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


Is #Hollywood Accounting trending yet?

July 18, 2023 No Comments »
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Recent AI and deep-fake activity

April 18, 2023 No Comments »
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Not that it needs to be demonstrated, but recent AI and deep-fake developments further demonstrate the need for meaningful Right of Publicity recognition.

AI-generated a “new” song presented as Drake and the Weeknd. Read more on this link: AI Drake the Weeknd song

Deep-fake technology is taking centerstage in a recently filed suit in California. Read more on this link: Kyland Young et. al. v. Neocortext Inc.


Is it okay for Antonio Brown to release a song called “Andrew Luck?”

February 19, 2020 No Comments »
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Sorry to disappoint anyone expecting this blog entry’s title to be answered here, but for a number of reasons, it isn’t. The question can certainly be raised though. Former Steelers, Raiders and Patriots wide received Antonio Brown has released a song or track entitled “Andrew Luck,” which opens with audio from Andrew Luck’s press conference announcing his retirement, and including a repeated refrain with the lyrics:

I got the game and I’m not on stuck
I’m out the way like Andrew Luck
Everybody callin’ my phone, shut up

A while back, Outkast released a song called Rosa Parks. Litigation ensued and Parks won. In short, the song wasn’t about Rosa Parks and the title was deemed a violation of Rosa Parks’ rights. Paraphrasing, a great line from that decision was that “crying artist does not confer carte blanche” to use a person’s name in a way that does not relate to the song, but which certainly serves to bring attention to the track.

There are various other examples. Logic released a song called “Keanu Reeves” which, interestingly and perhaps significantly, does not actually even reference Reeves. Instead, the connection, such as it is, refers to “the one” like Keanu Reeves, which of course is a reference to Reeves’ character Neo in the Matrix film franchise.

The legal test that likely applies best to these facts is the Rogers test, from litigation brought by Ginger Rogers in response a film named “Fred and Ginger.” Rogers lost the claim on the basis that the title was relevant to the film’s title and not simply a ploy to attract attention from Rogers’ name. Conversely, the same test was applied to Outkast’s release of a track called “Rosa Parks.” The lyrics were not about Rosa Parks, and it was determined to be a violation of Parks’ rights and an effort simply to attract attention to the song.

So I’ll leave it to you to decide if Brown’s song “Andrew Luck” is fair, appropriate or permissible, or if it fails the Rodgers test as Outkast’s song did a while back. I expect we’ll never really have this question answered, but it is an interesting reference point to consider in any event.

Here’s a link to the video and a recent interview with Antonio Brown:  Antonio Brown releases track named Andrew Luck


Jason Mraz lawsuit illustrates important takeaways

January 2, 2020 No Comments »
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The lawsuit filed by Jason Mraz against MillerCoors, filed December 4, 2019 illustrates various important points and takeaways.  View the complaint here:  Jason Mraz v. MillerCoors complaint

Reportedly, MillerCoors was a sponsor of the 2019 BeachLife Festival in California where Jason Mraz performed.  His performance of course included one of his hit songs, I’m Yours.  The complaint alleges that MillerCoors posted an advertisement on Instagram for Coors.  The advertisement includes a clip of Mraz performing the song, the Coors logo, display of a can of Coors Light, the phrase “presented by Coors Light,” and in the comments, the added statement “Kicking off summer with the World’s Most Refreshing Beer at the BeachLife Festival.”

While a complaint is not the same as a ruling, at least two of the important takeaways from this case are:

  1. Social media is advertising.
  2. Sponsors do not acquire broad rights to third-party intellectual property simply by serving as a sponsor.

Both of these issues come up with some regularity in the business of representing a rights owner and the right of publicity.  Claiming that a social media post is somehow different from advertising on the basis that it is a fluid, user-controlled environment, or that serving as a sponsor entitles the sponsor to utilize the rights of anyone other than the party they are in contract with as a sponsor, both can lead to serious problems.


Larry Bird mural presents interesting scenario for IP analysis

August 21, 2019 No Comments »
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Not that it would happen, but I can imagine providing the scenario in the following link as a law school exam:  Larry Bird mural

https://www.msn.com/en-us/sports/nba/larry-bird-wants-tattoos-removed-from-street-artists-mural-of-him/ar-AAG5jpx?ocid=spartanntp

It does not appear headed towards legal action, but hypothetically, how could this go?  On the copyright front, is it a fair use?  A derivative work?  Does adding tattoos that Bird obviously does not have change the copyright analysis?

On the Right of Publicity front, or perhaps on the privacy front, what issues exist?  Is it a commercial use?  Is it protected by statute?  Are there issues involved here that sway the analysis in one direction or the other?


FTC endorsement guide

May 13, 2019 No Comments »
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Here is a link to an article addressing the FTC’s guidelines for celebrity endorsements in the online and social media environment.  Social media in particular brings a host of unique issues.  The article on this link could be a useful reference:  https://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=34a6631e-563d-4546-bcbd-0c8c15f4ad07&utm_source=lexology+daily+newsfeed&utm_medium=html+email+-+body+-+general+section&utm_campaign=lexology+subscriber+daily+feed&utm_content=lexology+daily+newsfeed+2019-05-13&utm_term=

 

 

 


Columbia Law School’s Right of Publicity Roundtable

October 19, 2017 No Comments »
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Looking forward to participating in Columbia Law School’s “Right of Publicity Roundtable” tomorrow.  The event is an invitation-only symposium of academics, executives from various industries, SAG-AFTRA, private practice attorneys, as well as a comments from an accomplished actor speaking on the need for meaningful Right of Publicity recognition.

Here is a link to the event:  http://www.law.columbia.edu/events/right-publicity-roundtable


Muhammad Ali lawsuit against Fox for Super Bowl LI promo

October 11, 2017 No Comments »
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Muhammad Ali’s representatives have filed a $30 million lawsuit on behalf of Muhammad Ali Enterprises (MAE) against Fox Broadcasting Company.  The suit centers around a three minute promotional ad for Super Bowl LI which ran before the Super Bowl in 2017.  The spot includes various other personalities, past and present, in addition to Ali who is the focal point.

Here is a link to the complaint:

https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/4105801-Ali-Fox.html


Thelonius Monk suit illuminates risk in craft beer labels

August 31, 2017 No Comments »
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The rise in craft brewing labels has been accompanied by a custom in the industry to develop colorful names and labels.  While this dynamic creates the likelihood of infringements occurring, a recent lawsuit filed by the estate of Thelonius Monk involves additional considerations and backstory.

The North Coast Brewing Company apparently has produced its Brother Thelonious ale for about ten years.  Initially, permission was given verbally by the Monk estate.  Some degree of profits were to be given to the Thelonius Monk Institute of Jazz, a nonprofit music education program in D.C.  The dispute seems to involve activities beyond the anticipated use that was authorized verbally.

That said, it seems likely that the craft brewing industry has the potential to yield similar disputes involving iconic personalities.  For practitioners working with craft breweries, or the breweries themselves, this lawsuit could be instructive.

Here is a link to more details and an image of the Brother Thelonius label:

http://www.sfgate.com/beer/article/Thelonious-Monk-estate-sues-North-Coast-Brewing-12162234.php


Two articles on the business of Right of Publicity

June 12, 2017 No Comments »
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Two informative articles have issued in the last week, on the heels of the 2017 Licensing Show.  Both are informative and include input from industry leaders.

Forbes:   Forbes Business of Deceased Icons

and Huffington Post:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/592fa717e4b00afe556b0b27

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