Post-mortem publicity rights: can you help?

The IPKat's friend Janice Trebble wonders whether the collective wisdom of the IPKat's readers is as good as legend has it.  She writes:
"I am researching the matter of post mortem personality rights. I am aware that in Germany there was a decision a couple of years ago about MARLENE DIETRICH which has effectively put a ten year limit on personality rights after the death of a celebrity. I am trying to find out how this is dealt with in other countries. 

I’d be grateful for any help that the IPKat's readers can give. I regret that there is some time pressure on this".
The IPKat says, if you can assist, please email Janice here. Since there's a holiday weekend approaching, sooner rather than later would be hugely appreciated.

More on Marlene Dietrich here
See also Guido Westkamp (Queen Mary, University of London, UK), "Post-mortem protection and domain name use", [2007] JIPLP 720, a note on In Re, German Federal Court of Justice (BGH), I ZR 277/03, 5 October 2006 ("Personality rights cannot be exercised, as far as a commercial exploitation of a person's name is concerned, after 10 years from the death of the person").
Post-mortem publicity rights: can you help? Post-mortem publicity rights: can you help? Reviewed by Jeremy on Wednesday, April 08, 2009 Rating: 5


  1. The situation in Argentina is as follows:
    Article 21 of Law 18.248 (called "Name" Law) deals with publicity rights, here follows a rough translation: "If the name belonging to a person is used by another for his own designation the latter may be sued to stop the abuse,and he'll have to repair damages, if any. When used maliciously to describe things or characters and causes moral or material damages, the cessation of the use and compensation of damages maybe required. In both cases, the judge may impose sanctions authorized by Article 666 bis of the Civil Code".
    Art 22 of the same law "The demands for the protection of the name can be promoted by the individual, his spouse, ascendants, descendants and siblings".
    Therefore, if someone uses a celebrity name for his own designation ha may be sued. If he uses the name for a film, for publicity, etc and he causes material or moral damages, the affected person or his immediate kin may demand the cessation and compensation. As you can see "publicity rights" are not well protected because the "celebrity" has to prove that he or she suffered damages for the use of his name.
    Finally, there is no temporal limit for the exercise of the rights granted by this law.

  2. In the U.S., there is no federal right of publicity. The ROP is a matter of state law. The Wikipedia entry on ROP in the U.S. provides a good general introduction to the ROP landscape in the U.S.

  3. Cool! Zombie rights! I can see dead people...


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