Some problems with the right of publicity

The right of publicity, or right to control the commercial use of one’s identity, has developed as judge-made law and in state statutes; it also figures in many other nations’ law, often under the heading of “personality rights.” Together with the convention of treating it as a form of property rather than a personal right it leads to some practically dubious consequences, discussed by guest blogger Jennifer Rothman in a series of Volokh Conspiracy posts based on a new book. Among them are legal risks for reporting on and depictions of both living and deceased persons, including biographies and discussion of public figures; proposals for transferability and alienability of the right would also mean that persons can in some circumstances lose control over their identities while alive.

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