New York Lawmakers Kill Proposal Expanding Celebrities' Right To Sue

In a development cheered by the Association of National Advertisers, New York lawmakers failed to enact a law that would have expanded celebrities' right to sue over the commercial use of their names or likenesses.

"The threat of litigation could have a serious impact on how advertisers reach customers in New York and elsewhere, and could also overburden the already stretched New York court system with an avalanche of claims allowed under the new law," ANA executive vice president for governmental relations Dan Jaffe said Monday in a blog post. "Obviously, this would be extremely detrimental to the advertising and marketing community, which has a significant presence in New York."

The failed measure would have authorized suits against marketers, broadcasters and other media outlets that use names, photos or likenesses of people without their consent -- even if they never lived in the state. The proposed law also would have allowed people's heirs to sue for 40 years, provided they paid $100 to register with the New York Secretary of State. New York currently allows only living celebrities to sue over the commercial use of their names or photos.

The ANA raised several concerns about the proposal, including that it would have covered celebrities' "personas" -- a term the organization criticized as vague.

Other groups opposing the proposed law include the Motion Picture Association of America, New York State Broadcasters Association, Association of Magazine Media, and civil rights organization Electronic Frontier Foundation.

The MPAA argued in a letter to lawmakers that the bill unconstitutionally restricted filmmakers' ability to make movies inspired by or based on real people, such as "Citizen Kane," "Snowden," "Ray," and "The Social Network."

Next story loading loading..