Personal Images: The Professional Athlete's Right of Publicity

New York State Bar Association Journal, Vol. 80, No. 3, p. 11, March/April 2008

9 Pages Posted: 5 May 2011

Date Written: March/April 2008

Abstract

Fame is valued. The right of publicity protects the professional athlete's proprietary interest in the commercial value of his or her identity from exploitation by others. The right of publicity is a protectable property interest in one's name, identity or persona. Every person-celebrity or non-celebrity has a right of publicity, which is the right to own, protect and commercially exploit one's identity. The genesis of the legal right of publicity is rooted in and intertwined with the right of privacy. To avoid a violation of the right of publicity the individual's consent should be secured. Most professional athletes, as part of their employment, in their individual contracts and through the relevant collective bargaining agreements, give their consent to the team and league to broadcast their pictures, attributes and use their names for promotional purposes. The crux of the right of publicity is the commercial value of human identity. In order to lawfully and properly exploit this legitimate proprietary interest, it is just like the game itself - one must know the rules.

Keywords: Right of Publicity, Professional Athletes, Contracts, Endorsements

Suggested Citation

Johnson, James A., Personal Images: The Professional Athlete's Right of Publicity (March/April 2008). New York State Bar Association Journal, Vol. 80, No. 3, p. 11, March/April 2008. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1830239

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