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Right-of-Publicity Statutes: Some Historical Reflections and Recent Developments

For nearly four decades, the state of California has recognized a statutory right of publicity for living people. And for the past quarter of a century, California has extended that statutory right to the heirs and other representatives of deceased individuals. This article explores the extent to which the hopes of this legislation’s proponents have been achieved and, conversely, whether the concerns expressed by its opponents have come to fruition. It also briefly addresses the reasons for 2008 clarifying amendments to California’s postmortem publicity rights statute, as well as the status of various other states’ recent attempts to enact or amend right-of-publicity legislation.

This article was first printed in the September 2010 edition of Communication Lawyer. Permission for article reprint has been granted.