For many people, the most valuable intellectual property right is something known as the right of publicity. This is the right that everyone in California has to control how their image, voice, likeness, and other aspects of their identity are used, especially when that use occurs in a commercial context. But what happens when someone takes your identity and uses it in an advertisement without permission? This is precisely the kind of situation that Newport Beach right of publicity lawyers are best equipped to handle. Whether you are an actor, a model, or a social media influencer who depends on your personal brand to generate revenues and earn a living, it is imperative that you take immediate action and speak to a lawyer when your image or likeness has been exploited.
How California Law Defines the Right of Publicity
Among the different types of intellectual property rights, the ones that are most frequently litigated in Newport Beach courtrooms involve copyright infringement, trademark infringement, patent infringement, and trade secret misappropriation. But there is another very important form of intellectual property that concerns publicity rights. In California, you have a legal right to earn money from your own identity, as well as having exclusive control over how your identity is used to earn money. These publicity rights are particularly valuable in the internet era when social media has given individuals the ability to create personal brands and generate ad revenues on Twitter, Facebook, and other social media platforms. In fact, even your pet’s image or likeness on social media could be a source of income.
If you do opt to file a claim for publicity rights infringement, you will need to prove that some part of your identity was used by the defendant. California law provides statutory protections for your image, voice, name, signature, and likeness. Beyond that, there is also a common law right of publicity that is based on established legal precedent, which could give you and your attorney more options when deciding whether to bring a lawsuit in Newport Beach.
The Right of Publicity on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube
The internet has made it remarkably easy for people to gain access to your personal information. This is particularly true if you use social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube to publish photographs and videos. When another person or company copies your information and then uses it in their advertisement or commercial, they can make it appear as though you are endorsing their product or service. Actors, musicians, models, and others may log onto the internet one day to find out that they’ve been associated with a brand they never agreed to endorse in the first place. This is where California law comes into play, since there are statutes that provide individuals with broad protections against the unauthorized commercial exploitation of their likeness, as well as protections against the invasion of their privacy.
Filing a Statutory Publicity Rights Claim in Newport Beach, CA
The California Celebrities Rights Act is the state statute that addresses publicity rights. The law provides strong protections against the misappropriation of a person’s image, name, voice, or likeness for a commercial benefit. As set forth by California Civil Code Section 3344, anyone who uses one of these aspects of another person’s identity without obtaining consent is violating the law and can be sued for money damages, which include statutory damages of $750 for each violation. Importantly, the law applies to everyone in California, including both celebrities and non-celebrities.
Common Law Claims for Misappropriation of Publicity Rights in Newport Beach
While the Celebrities Rights Act offers a statutory basis for filing a right of publicity claim in Newport Beach and elsewhere in California, there is also a common law claim that can be filed when your right of publicity is used without permission. The “common law” refers to law that has been established by judges issuing court decisions as opposed to legislators passing bills. Under California’s common law, a right of publicity claim can be filed even when the defendant did not use the plaintiff’s likeness in an advertisement or commercial. If the defendant benefitted at all from their use of the likeness, they can be sued. The plaintiff merely needs to establish that their identity was used, the use was not authorized, the defendant gained some type of advantage from the use, and the plaintiff suffered some type of injury.
Remedies Available in Newport Beach Right of Publicity Lawsuits
There are different remedies that may be available in your Newport Beach right of publicity lawsuit. The facts of the case will likely dictate whether you get an injunction to stop the defendant from using your likeness going forward, an actual damages award to compensate you for the financial harm you suffered as a result of the misappropriation, or a statutory damages award. When it comes to right of publicity damages awards, actual damages usually end up being the highest amount because they are not capped in the same way as statutory damages. But it is important to note that even statutory damages can add up very quickly because the court is allowed to order the defendant to pay $750 for each offense. Moreover, it is also possible for the plaintiff in a right of publicity case to receive compensation for their attorney’s fees.
What Defenses Are Available to Contest a Publicity Rights Lawsuit?
Anyone who is thinking about filing a right of publicity claim in Newport Beach needs to be aware of the defenses available to contest these lawsuits. You should expect the defendant to have legal representation, especially if there are substantial money damages at stake in the case. The reality is that defendants have a number of possible defenses in right of publicity lawsuits, including a statute of limitations defense that could get your claim thrown out before trial.
Under California law, plaintiffs must bring their publicity rights claim within two (2) years of the defendant using their likeness. But what if you had no way of knowing that the defendant was using your image or photograph until after two years had already passed? The good news is that courts can apply a “reasonable person” standard in these situations, with the judge asking whether a reasonable person would have been able to discover the violation. This is where a knowledgeable Newport Beach intellectual property attorney can help you win your publicity rights case.
Information About Newport Beach
Newport Beach is in Orange County, CA. The seaside city is a popular residence, with a growing population of approximately 85,000 people who enjoy nice weather, good schools, and easy access to beaches. The city has a growing economy that includes major employers like Glidewell Dental, Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian, Pacific Life Insurance, PIMCO, and Tower Semiconductor. Additionally, Mercedes-Benz and Toyota have ties to Newport Beach: the world’s largest Mercedes dealership is located in the city, and Toyota’s design center for multiple car models is also in the city.
Contact the Newport Beach Right of Publicity Attorneys at Tauler Smith LLP
Did a person or company misappropriate your right of publicity in Newport Beach? The legal team at Tauler Smith LLP can investigate your case and help you determine whether it makes sense to bring a legal action. Contact us today by calling 310-590-3927 or sending an email.