New York Times Article on De Havilland Case

Tuesday, March 06, 2018 - 10:45 am PT
Olivia de Havilland FX Networks right of publicity lawsuit false light california rothman

Paul Brownfield's article on Olivia de Havilland's lawsuit against FX Network was published in Sunday's New York Times Style Section. It has a wonderful interview with Ms. de Havilland that explains more about her views on the lawsuit. It also has some commentary from me related to the case.  My op-ed, in print, the same day in the L.A. Times provides more detail about my take on the legal issues, and what is at stake in the case.

Particularly worth emphasizing after reading the NY Times article is the distinction between the false light tort and the right of publicity.  There can be liability for a right of publicity claim without regard to whether the portrait is false or not.  That is what is can be so dangerous about such claims, if they are not properly limited.  Being offended, preferring not to be depicted, or wanting to be paid are quite different "harms" from a claim that one was falsely portrayed in a manner that would be highly offensive to reasonable people, and suffered harm as a result.

The California Court of Appeal will hear the appeal from the trial court's decision in the case on March 20, 2018.

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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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