Hastings Communications and Entertainment Law Journal


The use of images of deceased actors in film has become increasingly controversial in recent years. Advances in digital imaging technology have made it possible to manipulate these images to such an extent that it will soon be feasible to produce films in which they play leading roles. The lack of legal protections available to the deceased actors' heirs, who want the rights to control the use of the actors' images for both creative and economic reasons, prompted Fred Astaire's widow and other Hollywood celebrities to push for passage of the Astaire Celebrity Image Protection Act. Signed into law in late 1999, the Act failed to extend full protection to deceased celebrity images, but did enhance some of the existing protections for their use. This Article traces the development of the Act, examines the legal, economic, and public policy issues behind its passage, and makes additional reform recommendations.