Monthly Archives: October 2007

Celebrity likenesses revisited

Since I wrote my post entitled “No Right of Publicity for Marilyn Monroe” last June, there’s been a significant change to the law regarding Deceased celebrities’ likenesses.

A few weeks ago, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenneger signed into law a bill that’s jokingly been called “the dead celebrities bill”.  The new law essentially reaches back to retroactively create a property right in a celebrity’s image, allowing that right to be transferred according to the celebrity decedent’s wishes.

The issue surfaced again recently in connection with another battle over photos of Marilyn Monroe.  In that case, the estate of photographer Milton Greene, who photographed Monroe in 1952 for Look Magazine.   Greene was, according to many, one of Monroe’s favorite photographers.

After the photographer’s death, his son began restoring and selling some of the Monroe photos, but Anna Strasberg,  who now controls the Monroe estate sued top prevent this exploitation of Monroe’s image.  (Strasberg, who hardly knew Marilyn, inherited the Monroe estate from her husband Lee Strasberg, Marilyn’s long time friend and acting coach.)

In that case, rulings went against Strasberg, on grounds similar to the Shaw Family Archive Case I discussed in June.  Essentially, the courts held that since no provision of law existed at the time of her death to create a property right in her likeness, Ms. Monroe didn’t have any such right to transfer.  The ruling meant that Monroe’s likeness was fair game for anybody to exploit.

Enter California State Senator Sheila Kuehl (herself a former actress), who sponsored the Bill signed earlier this month.  The law gives celebrities, even those who have been dead for decades, a property right to bequeath as part of their estates.

Josh Greene, the son of photographer Milton Greene thinks the law is unconstitutional because it amounts to taking away his property.  Moreover, he contends  that although Monroe died in California, she was actually a New York resident at the time, so the new law probably won’t apply to her case.

This week on Law and Video Podcast (Oct. 16, 2007)

This week’s Law and Video podcast is now available at http://www.lawandvideo.com Listen Live Tuesdays at 5pm Pacific/8pm Eastern. This week’s topics: Is videotaping live theatre performances a fair use? Contracts and non-compete clauses. Video of event used for commercial purposes without consent of event producer. College Dorm / Lounge area showings of movies. Copyright Infringement?… Continue Reading

This week on Law and Video Podcast (Oct. 16, 2007)

This week’s Law and Video podcast is now available at http://www.lawandvideo.com Listen Live Tuesdays at 5pm Pacific/8pm Eastern. This week’s topics: Is videotaping live theatre performances a “fair use”? Contracts and non-compete clauses. Video of event used for commercial purposes without consent of event producer. College Dorm / Lounge area showings of movies. Copyright Infringement?… Continue Reading

Law and Video Podcast: October 9, 2007

The newest episode of Law and Video is now available at http://www.lawandvideo.com This is the first live, call-in podcast to clear the air on legal issues for filmmakers and videographers who are looking for answers to questions related to starting a production business, copyright issues, contracts, intellectual property and distribution. Listen Live Tuesdays at 5pm… Continue Reading

Update: Broadway talks stalled. Lockout likely.

As of this morning, talks between Broadway producers and the stagehands’ union have stalled. On Tuesday, each side issued it’s “final offer”, and neither side blinked. No new talks are scheduled. The major point of disagreement remains the staffing requirements for the load-in, the period during which a show moves into a theatre, equipment and… Continue Reading

Listening to the radio at work? You may be a copyright infringer!

A recent case in the UK Courts is raising some interesting questions about liability for copyright infringement by companies whose employees play music in the workplace. In the case at hand, mechanics for a Scottish car repair service played their personal radios in the work-bays of the company’s garage. Obviously, an auto-repair shop is a… Continue Reading

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