Hastings Communications and Entertainment Law Journal


Seth E. Bloom


The appropriation of an individual's name or likeness without that individual's consent subjects defendants to civil liability under the tort law doctrine known as the "right of publicity." While, as originally formulated, the doctrine protected only a person's name or likeness from misappropriation, in recent years the right of publicity has been substantially expanded to broadly protect against the misappropriation of one's "identity." While the original formulation of the doctrine may have been unnecessarily restrictive, expanding the protection afforded by the right of publicity to include characteristics beyond merely name or likeness carries its own dangers of foreclosing a substantial range of creative expression and granting to public figures windfall monopolies to control media, artistic, and commercial portrayals of aspects of their "identity." This Article discusses and analyzes the recent development of the right of publicity and suggests the proper scope for the protection of identity.