South Carolina

South Carolina provides a common law right of publicity which is treated as synonymous with a privacy-based misappropriation claim.

Statute 

NO

Common Law - Right of Publicity 

YES

South Carolina recognizes a right of publicity, and treats it as synonymous with a privacy-based misappropriation tort.  The South Carolina Supreme Court has held that “the right to control the use of one’s identity is a property right that is transferable, assignable, and survives the death of the named individual.”  To violate the right one must use the person’s “name, likeness, or identity [for] the defendant’s own benefit.”

Gignilliat v. Gignilliat, Savitz & Bettis L.P., 684 S.E.2d 756 (S.C. 2009)

Common Law - Right of Privacy-Appropriation Tort 

YES

South Carolina recognizes a right to privacy and the tort of “wrongful appropriation of personality.”

Gignilliat v. Gignilliat, Savitz & Bettis L.P., 684 S.E.2d 756 (S.C. 2009)

Holloman v. Life Ins. Co. of Virginia, 7 S.E.2d 169 (S.C. 1940)

Post-Mortem Right 

YES

The common law right has been held to survive death. It is unclear if there is any durational limit on these post-mortem rights.

Gignilliat v. Gignilliat, Savitz & Bettis L.P., 684 S.E.2d 756 (S.C. 2009)

Limits on Right 
Does the law require the plaintiff or identity-holder to be a celebrity or have a commercially valuable identity?

LIKELY NOT

There is likely no requirement that an identity-holder be a celebrity, nor that the person have a commercially valuable identity. One unpublished federal district court has held otherwise, but this conclusion has been disagreed with by other courts in the district and would likely be rejected by South Carolina courts.

Gignilliat v. Gignilliat, Savitz & Bettis L.P., 684 S.E.2d 756 (S.C. 2009)

Insurance Prods. Mkt. v. Conseco Life Ins., 2012 WL 3308368 (D. S.C. 2012)

Uhlig LLC v. Shirley, 2011 WL 1119548 (D. S.C. 2011)

Does the law protect persona?

UNCLEAR

No case to date has considered the question.

Is Liability Limited to Uses on Commercial Advertising or Commercial Speech?

LIKELY NOT

Although courts at some times have referred to a use having to be for a “commercial purpose,” at other times the courts simply refer to a use for the defendant’s benefit and none has suggested a commercial speech or advertising limitation.

Gignilliat v. Gignilliat, Savitz & Bettis L.P., 684 S.E.2d 756 (S.C. 2009)

Page last updated on: September 24, 2015

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