Social Media and Intel (Part IX): Select Publicity Rights Cases

This post provides short briefs of two publicity rights cases, which provide insights about publicity rights on social media. A previous post on the subject covered a couple of other cases.

Ranveer Singh and Slippers

Just before the movie Kill Dil, a Bollywood film starring Ranveer Singh, Govinda and others was released, a company by the name ‘Yo Custom Freak’ uploaded a Facebook image of slippers. The phrase ‘Kill Dil’ was written on the slippers and Ranveer Singh’s photograph was part of the image. The company claims to produce customized apparels, jewelry, accessories, etc., and this was one of its customized products.

On noting the image, Ranveer Singh sent a notice to ‘Yo Custom Freak’ claiming violation of publicity rights among other claims. In response, the company immediately took down the image, and the case was settled.

Athletes v. Samsung

Samsung launched an App called ‘Olympic Genome’ on Facebook, which showed how Olympic Athletes were connected to users. When the App was released in 2012, a group of athletes including the likes of Mark Spitz, Jackie Joyner-Kersee and Greg Louganis, sued Samsung for violation of their publicity rights for use of their names and images in the App. The suit was filed a few months before the London Olympics in 2012.

In the suit, the athletes claimed that Samsung’s name and its Galaxy phone were conspicuously displayed on the App, which included images and names of athletes, their likes and so on. This,according to the athletes, gave the impression that the athletes were endorsing Samsung and its products, which amounted to violation of their publicity rights. The Superior Court of Los Angeles rejected the claim, and agreed with Samsung that the use was free speech, which required no permission from the athletes.

Authored by Dr. Kalyan Kankanala
Contributed by Social Media Law Team of BananaIP
If you have any further questions on the subject, please write to [email protected]
BananaIP’s Social Media Law experts will revert at the earliest.
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