traverselegal - July 24, 2013 - Copyright Law
What is the right of publicity? The right of publicity is the right to control the commercial use of ones own likeness. The right of publicity is a product of state law which, in Michigan, is defined largely by federal case law. This means that right of publicity claims may be subject to modified interpretation from Michigan courts.
In many instances the issue arises where someones photograph is utilized for commercial purposes. A commercial purpose is necessary in order to have a legitimate claim to the violation of your right of publicity. For instance, if your picture appears in a news story in a newspaper then you have no right of publicity claim because, as an exception under the copyright law, the newspaper is making fair use of your likeness to report a news story. Never the less, if they were to use that same photograph to promote their newspaper subscription or a service of the newspaper for their own private commercial purposes, they would be violating your right of publicity.
Likewise, if your likeness appears on a website without your permission, for the websites own commercial purposes, then you may have a claim against the publisher for violating your right of publicity to keep your likeness private and from being disseminated without your consent.
Do you think your right of publicity has been violated? Contact Traverse Legal to discuss your right of publicity claim with a copyright attorney.