Right of Publicity

Practice: Right of Publicity

Pfeiffer Law works with celebrities, influencers and private individuals to protect their name, image and likeness from use without permission


The “right of publicity” generally refers to an individual’s right to control the commercial use of their name, image or likeness. Infringement of this right most commonly occurs when a company or individual uses a celebrity’s image without their permission to promote a product. For example, let’s say Sprite uses an image of Drake in a commercial and Sprite’s sales spike as a result. In this hypothetical, Drake might be able to sue Sprite for violating his right of publicity; his image clearly has value and he has the right to control who uses it. Most importantly, he gets to control the price of using his image. The value of a person’s identity lies at the heart of the right of publicity, and with social media it is very easy to lose control of that right.

The attorneys at Pfeiffer Law Corp have advised numerous celebrities, prominent individuals and influencers on how to best protect their image, as well as the most effective way to monetize their image with the least amount of risk. We also negotiate life rights deals for our clients. Because we have been in the trenches of many publicity deals, we know the finer points of these agreements. Most importantly, we know which deal points tend to cause problems and we work proactively to mitigate those risks.

However, not all risks can be avoided. We live in the age of branding, where sponsorships and endorsements are heavily involved in the marketing and advertising of basically everything that is bought or sold around the globe. Every brand is trying to get an edge over their competitors, and a celebrity endorsement can give a huge competitive advantage to one product over another. This practice is not new, and celebrity/influencer endorsements are great, so long as the company/individual obtains permission to use the identity of the celebrity in its campaign. And while celebrities certainly bear the brunt of right of publicity infringements, every person has the right to control the commercial use of their identity.

It is worth noting that the laws governing the right of publicity vary from state to state.  California has a reputation of providing strong protection for publicity rights, particularly for living celebrities and the heirs of deceased celebrities. As mentioned above, right of publicity laws have expanded from primarily protecting celebrities to protecting private citizens as well.

If a problem does arise and your name, image or likeness is used for commercial purposes without your permission, Pfeiffer Law Corp has the experience to effectively litigate on your behalf. Our lawyers have handled many cases on behalf of celebrities and other individuals regarding the wrongful appropriation of their image. 


If you are seeking representation regarding Right of Publicity, give us a call at (310) 451-5800.  


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