Thoughts on current legal news in media, technology and the arts

Recording Artist Pitbull’s First Amendment Defense

Posted: Tuesday, May 29, 2012 | Posted by Lizbeth Hasse, Esq. | Labels: , ,

Artists, authors and advertisers often ask our law office if they can use references to celebrities and other public personalities in their works and performances. Isn’t it fair use if I’m not charging for my own work that uses the celebrity’s name? Isn’t it parody if the name or image is imbedded in my original funny skit? Isn’t it free speech if the object of critique is of public interest? 

If an impersonation of Sarah Palin is ok, can’t I show the dark unknown about the Queen of England? Or write a song about George Zimmerman's parents? Personal publicity rights, which are largely the creations of state law (note that California has one of the more protective publicity statutes), combined with privacy laws established in constitutional jurisprudence and statutory recognitions, come up against the ever-shifting domain of First Amendment rulings and exclusions. The legal consequences can be surprising.


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