Who controls how one’s identity is used by others? This legal question, centuries old, demands greater scrutiny in the Internet age. Jennifer Rothman uses the right of publicity—a little-known law, often wielded by celebrities—to answer that question, not just for the famous but for everyone. In challenging the conventional story of the right of publicity’s emergence, development, and justifications, Rothman shows how it transformed people into intellectual property, leading to a bizarre world in which you can lose ownership of your own identity. This shift and the right’s subsequent expansion undermine individual liberty and privacy, restrict free speech, and suppress artistic works.
The Right of Publicity traces the right’s origins back to the emergence of the right of privacy in the late 1800s. The central impetus for the adoption of privacy laws was to protect people from “wrongful publicity.” This privacy-based protection was not limited to anonymous private citizens but applied to famous actors, athletes, and politicians. Beginning in the 1950s, the right transformed into a fully transferable intellectual property right, generating a host of legal disputes, from control of dead celebrities like Prince, to the use of student athletes’ images by the NCAA, to lawsuits by users of Facebook and victims of revenge porn.
The right of publicity has lost its way. Rothman proposes returning the right to its origins and in the process reclaiming privacy for a public world.
A fascinating read for anyone who is interested in the nuts and bolts of right of publicity law and how the doctrine evolved to where it is today. It also will serve as a valuable resource for litigators looking for guidance on how to reconcile the seemingly contradictory precedent in a way that is understandable…This book will quickly become one of the most cited sources by litigants and courts grappling with right of publicity issues.
An unquestionably important book. Masterfully researched and deftly crafted, it is probably the best single source for gaining a deep understanding of the doctrine’s history, context, and politics… Deserves a place among the must-reads of American right of publicity law.
A formidable book that maps out the contours of the publicity right in an appealing and timely way.
Rothman’s important book is an excellent contribution to the field, one that will hopefully provoke courts and legislatures to rethink their headlong expansion of the right of publicity. It should be required reading for anyone dealing with the right of publicity.
Rothman provides a complete legal and cultural history of the right of publicity, tracing its development from the late 1800s to its modern-day expansion as a transferable right of property. Fascinating details of the individuals behind the cases, including celebrities and private citizens, inform how the law’s current contours have been shaped…Indispensable.
This is the definitive biography of the right of publicity, whose boundaries have exploded in recent years. Jennifer Rothman tells the story with zest, explaining how we should restructure this right in our fame-obsessed age.
The book is a fascinating read for anyone interested in gaining a better understanding of the nuts and bolts of right of publicity law and how the doctrine evolved to where it is today. Rothman concisely connects the dots among seemingly irreconcilable court decisions while debunking myths about the early case-law.
Rothman makes a crucial argument that goes to the heart of the current legal doctrine.
Jennifer Rothman has written an important, informative study of the right of publicity as it has developed in the United States and its connections to a robust privacy right. By reexamining the past, she has elaborated principles that will be useful in defining both publicity and privacy rights for the digital age.
- 256 pages
- 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
- Harvard University Press
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