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DRESS UP AS A CELEBRITY---IF YOU DARE: How Right of Publicity Issues May Arise When Choosing Your Halloween Costume

M&B BATMANJOKER.jpgHalloween 2016 is sure to bring some of the most entertaining pop culture costumes like the characters from Suicide Squad. These characters belong to DC Comics and costume companies that create and sell these type of costumes for profit must license out the intellectual property for each costume design from its respective owner.

Then there are those costumes of real people like the presidential candidates, Miley Cyrus, Beyonce, and Kim Kardashian West. Whether you exercise the right or not, everyone has the right to control their name and likeness for a commercial purpose. This is known as a right of publicity. California Civil Code Section 3344 protects a person's name, voice, signature, photograph, and likeness. This statute is in addition to the common law publicity rights. 

M&B MARILYNMONROE.jpgThere are other public figures, such as Marilyn Monroe, that are in the public domain. Using her name and likeness is free game for anyone.

What about a parody defense? The Court in Vanna White v. Samsung Electronics distinguished between making fun of a person and making fun of a person in order to sell a product. Parody covers the former, not the latter.

M&B HARLEYQUINN.jpgSo if you plan on making a costume just to celebrate Halloween and don't intend to sell it, then you are likely in the clear. In the event you decide to create and distribute costumes, you may want to learn more about these laws and we can help with answering your questions. The last thing you want to become is another cautionary tale, so visit our page for more information.

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