New York Assembly Revises Right of Publicity Bill to Match Flawed Senate Version

Thursday, June 06, 2019 - 5:00 pm PT
new york assembly right of publicity privacy legislation

Today, the New York Assembly introduced an amended version of its proposed right of publicity bill.  It is virtually identical (with only minor changes) to the senate bill introduced a few weeks ago, and contains no improvements or fixes from the highly flawed senate bill.

This amended version unfortunately shares the chaos, confusion, and problems of the senate bill that I commented on at length. I will not repeat these concerns again here, but they are accessible at https://www.rightofpublicityroadmap.com/news-commentary/new-york-reintroduces-right-publicity-bill-dueling-versions

Even though the new bill makes it more likely that the senate and assembly could potentially agree on the text they are voting on before the session closes on June 19th, passage of the bill would lead to years of unecessary confusion and litigation. And most importantly, as I observed with regard to the senate version, this bill could work at cross-purposes with the very interests the bills' sponsors in the Assembly and Senate claim to want to further. 

Whether you are in favor of more expansive right of publicity laws or against them, you should not want this bill to proceed. Whether you are an average citizen who doesn't want Facebook using your face to sell soda, or a performer who doesn't want your manager to own you forever, or someone trying to make a film that refers to real people you should be contacting your senators and assemblymembers to tell them to vote against this mixed up bill that will only make things worse for each person than under current New York law.

The legislature should stop rushing these bills in the final moments of the legislative sessions, and try to draft more carefully constructed and targeted legislation to address the concerns over reanimated performances, the dissemination of sexual explicit images, and the extension of rights after death.

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This book from Harvard University Press by Professor Jennifer Rothman traces the history and development of the right of publicity and its current collision course with individual liberty, free speech and copyright law.

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