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Media Law

A Practical Guide (Revised Edition)

Ashley Messenger

Media Law: A Practical Guide (Revised Edition) provides a clear and concise explanation of media law principles. It focuses on the practical aspects of how to protect oneself from claims and how to evaluate the likelihood of a successful claim. This new edition has been revised to reflect important changes and updates to the law, including recent developments relating to scandalous trademarks, embedding, fair use, drones, revenge porn laws, interpretation of emoji, GDPR, false statements laws, lies, and the libel implications of the #MeToo movement.

Media Law is divided into five sections that help non-lawyers understand how the principles apply to their actual behavior: background information about the legal system; things you can be sued for; how you actually gather information; ways the government can regulate speech; and practical issues that are related to media law. This book is perfect for courses in media and communications law or a combination course in journalism law and ethics, as it covers both the legal and ethical aspects of communication.

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5 Publicity: Using Someone’s Name or Likeness


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Using Someone’s Name or Likeness

Whenever the name or likeness of a person—whether a celebrity or otherwise—is used, one must consider whether the use infringes the person’s right of publicity. The tricky problem with publicity laws is that they vary substantially from state to state. Whether a use is protected or not may depend on nothing more than the jurisdiction in which the lawsuit is filed. This chapter will go over some of the issues to take into consideration to evaluate publicity claims or to avoid a suit in the first place.

What Is the Right of Publicity?

The right of publicity is the right to control the use of one’s identity in commercial contexts. State laws typically prohibit “the appropriation of the name or likeness of another for commercial purposes without consent.” This is one of the most confusing and complex areas of law, and states are not consistent in how they handle it.

Initially, there were two different but similar tort claims based on using someone’s name or likeness: “right of publicity” and “misappropriation of name or likeness.” Both torts hinge on the notion that a person uses another person’s name or likeness for a commercial purpose without consent. Traditionally, the difference between the claims was that misappropriation focused on the harm done to a person’s privacy right—the right not to be exposed to the public—and...

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