“Target has right to sell Rosa Parks biographies, commemorative plaque”

In an important decision, the Eleventh Circuit has ruled that the Rosa Parks estate does not have the right to prevent the use of the likeness and words of the late civil rights leader in biographies and tribute material. While the “right of publicity” in privacy law, best known for enabling the estates of deceased entertainers to control commercialization of their identity, has not been applied so broadly as to prevent the publication of unauthorized biographies and discussions of historical figures, its exact bounds have been uncertain; the new decision makes clear that a broad range of discussion of figures and movements of public interest counts as protected speech that does not depend on survivors’ permission. [Eugene Volokh]

One Comment

  • In December of 2014, this blog covered the non use of Martin Luther King’s actual words from for the movie “Selma.”

    ( see: http://overlawyered.com/2014/12/selma-speeches-not-king/ )

    You quoted Jonathan Brand in saying:

    … [Under existing precedent] DuVernay would have had a strong fair use defense had she used King’s actual words rather than just paraphrased them. Perhaps she (or her lawyers) decided that historical accuracy was not worth the risk of litigation with the King estate.

    Assuming that the decision in the Parks case is applied nationwide, would this mean that the fear of a suit by the King family and or Steven Spielberg (who owns the rights) would go away because there would be no basis for the lawsuit?