Thursday, June 23, 2011

Right of publicity question of the day

Does using an irate customer's voicemail message in an ad violate her right of publicity?  There's certainly use of "voice," but it's not clear to me that Texas common law covers voice for a living person, and there may also be a requirement that the identity have commercial value.  The result in other states, of course, might be easier to predict; New York clearly protects the "voice" of "any person."  Given the expanded First Amendment protection for commercial speech in recent years, though, we have to ask whether a government interest in privacy--or the commercial value of publicity rights--can sustain such broad laws.

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