Why Missouri Right of Publicity Law Matters:

Commenter agog writes, apropos the Tony Twist right of publicity case,

So, if you're an artist here's another reason not to live in Missouri. Terrible decision.

If only the decision were that limited! Unfortunately, it affects writers, filmmakers, and other artists throughout the country (and throughout the world, if their work is distributed in the U.S.).

The dominant U.S. choice-of-law rule is that right of publicity cases are decided using the law of the jurisdiction in which the plaintiff lives (or in which he was living when he died). That means that if John Ashcroft moves back to Missouri, someone writes a novel in which one of the characters is named John Ashcroft, and Ashcroft sues -- even outside Missouri -- most courts will apply Missouri law. Ashcroft might therefore win if the jury decides that the novel/movie/song used his name primarily for "commercial" purposes rather than "expressive" or "artistic" purposes.

Even if this weren't so, and Ashcroft had to sue in Missouri court, he could still probably get jurisdiction over the defendants, even if they had never set foot in Missouri. He could certainly get jurisdiction over the nationwide media organizations that publish and distribute the work. So Missouri law would affect what commercially distributed books, films, or other works anyone, whether in Missouri or not, can create.

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. Why Missouri Right of Publicity Law Matters:
  2. The Right of Publicity, the First Amendment, Comic Books, and Hockey Players: