Virginia recognizes a right to prevent the appropriation of one’s name or likeness by statute only.
Crump v. Forbes, 2000 WL 33258762 (Va. Cir. Ct.)
WLJA-TV v. Levin, 564 S.E.2d 383 (Va. 2002)
Virginia provides a statutory post-mortem right for twenty (20) years after death.
Does the law require the plaintiff or identity-holder to be a celebrity or have a commercially valuable identity?
Does the law protect persona?
The statute is limited to use of name, photograph or portrait and at least one federal court has rejected a claim under the statute based on the use of a screen name.
Motise v. America Online, Inc., 2005 WL 1667658 (E.D. Va. 2005)
Is Liability Limited to Uses on Commercial Advertising or Commercial Speech?
The statute is broader and allows for liability for any trade purposes which may include uses in media and expressive works. However, at least one federal court has suggested that uses in magazines do not count as for purposes of trade or advertising.
Town & Country Properties, Inc. v. Riggins, 457 S.E.2d 356 (Va. 1995)
Cornwell v. Sachs, 99 F. Supp.2d 695 (E.D. Va. 2000)
Falwell v. Penthouse Intern., Ltd., 521 F. Supp. 1204 (W.D. Va. 1981)
The statute does not contain exceptions.
One’s name and likeness are considered property in Virginia and the appropriation statute is therefore subject to the longer statute of limitations afforded to property-based claims.
Lavery v. Automation Management Consultants, Inc., 360 S.E.2d 336 (Va. 1987)