Trivia question: has the Supreme Court ever considered the issue of celebrity value?


According to Mark Roesler, the first case that allowed for individuals to maintain their "right of publicity" was the "Human Caononball" Zacchini case.   This involved a newsreel shot of a man who travelled around midwest state fairs and shot himself out of a cannon; he claimed that the newsreel diminished his ability to capitalize on his skills.  After the Supreme Court decisions, state courts started to follow along, first in Virginia, and most comprehensively in states like Indiana and Tennessee--and now California.  The California law is the most litigated, and it extends protection for 70 years.  The law has been amended many times since the first efforts in 1972.

A recent update is the Comedy III case--this is a good indicator of the "sufficiently transformative test."  The court feels that the IP rights of the original artists (in this case the Three Stooges) outweigh the artistic rights to reproduce the image.   They balance the transformative nature of the reproduction .

Another interesting case is Edger and Johnny Winter, says Roesler.   The Courts ruled there that the transformation to comic books was sufficiently transformative to protect the First Amendment rights of the comic book artists.


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