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Right of Publicity Lawyer

A right of publicity attorney can protect your image and identity from exploitation. 

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Invasion of Privacy Attorney

In Ohio and dozens of other states, the right of publicity law protects against unwarranted appropriation or exploitation of an individual’s personality, concerning a large area of digital media rights and online privacy claims.

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This law is typically associated with celebrities, though, in this digital age, the law extends to every individual. Any person whose name or face is used to sell a product may have a right of privacy claim.

Infringing on someone else’s right of publicity is an unacceptable invasion of their privacy, leaving them feeling violated and disrespected. As the internet and social media continue to evolve, knowing your legal rights is more important than ever.

The Lyon Firm can provide professional guidance to protect your likeness and identity. Discuss your situation with a right of publicity attorney by contacting The Lyon Firm online or calling (513) 381-2333.

What Is the Right of Publicity?

The right of publicity refers to a person’s right to control and profit from the commercial use of their identity, name, likeness, or other recognizable aspects of their persona. 

This concept protects individuals from the unauthorized exploitation of their image or identity for commercial gain, like advertising, merchandising, or other profitable ventures. 

Overall, right of publicity grants people the exclusive right to determine how their persona will be used in public, preventing use that could potentially damage their reputation or stop them from benefiting from their own identity. 

What Is Considered a “Commercial Purpose?”

“Commercial purpose” pertains to the use of any aspect of an individual’s persona in the following ways:

  • In connection with a place, a product, merchandise, goods, services, or other commercial activities not expressly exempted under the right of publicity statute.
  • To advertise or solicit the purchase of products, merchandise, goods, services, or other commercial activities not expressly exempted under the right of publicity statute.
  • To promote travel.
  • For fundraising.


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Joe Lyon is a highly-rated Online Invasion of Privacy Lawyer who has represented individuals in data privacy and digital privacy lawsuits claims both locally and nationally. 

Online Privacy and digital media laws protect individuals and afford the right to take legal action when necessary. 

Who Has the Right of Publicity?

Although the right of publicity is commonly associated with celebrities, everyone, regardless of how famous, has a right to prevent unauthorized use of their name or image to sell products. 

Also, this right prohibits any implication that a person endorses a product without the person’s permission.

“Many people mistakenly think that only celebrities can evoke right of publicity, but this is not true. No matter who you are, your image and identity are valuable assets. So, I encourage you to never underestimate the worth and significance of protecting your likeness.”

Joe Lyon profile photoJoe Lyon,
Founding Partner of the Lyon Firm

Right of Publicity Examples

It’s crucial to be able to recognize examples of right of publicity to know when your rights are being violated. Below are a few scenarios highlighting how the right of publicity works in different contexts: 

  • Celebrity endorsements: Unapproved use of a celebrity’s name or image in an advertisement or promotion.
  • Biographical works: Using someone’s life story or likeness in books, films, or documentaries without permission. 
  • Impersonation: False endorsement or misrepresentation using a person’s identity to deceive consumers. 

A recent right of publicity example involved Whitepages and over 49,000 individuals. These consumers sued Whitepages in Illinois state court, accusing the company of violating the Illinois Right of Publicity Act by using their personal identifying information to advertise subscriptions to the site. The lawsuit resulted in a $4 million settlement

What Can a Right of Publicity Lawsuit Do for Me?

A right of publicity lawyer can protect the following aspects of your persona if they have defined commercial value:

  • Name: A first name or a nickname, an assumed name, a stage name, or anything sufficient to identify a particular person.
  • Voice: Includes voice impersonations.
  • Signatures.
  • Photograph: Any portion of a person that is sufficient to recognize that person. Photographic reproduction, moving photographs, or videos can fall under this category. 
  • Likeness: Includes a lookalike stand-in or actual person who, through make-up, is made to appear like another person.
  • Distinctive appearance.
  • Portrait: including a cartoon or illustration.

If your identity has been used without your consent, it’s more than just a legal matter–it’s a violation of your personal rights. Your image reflects your values, and unauthorized use can feel deeply invasive and wrong.

The Lyon Firm is here to protect your reputation and ensure that your identity is never disrespected. Contact us online or call (513) 381-2333 to preserve and regain control of your likeness.

How Can a Right of Publicity Attorney Help Me?

Enlisting the guidance of a right of publicity lawyer can give you the knowledge to enforce your right to privacy and your publicity rights. 

A lawyer can empower you to monitor your image to prevent any unauthorized use of your image, persona, likeness, or any other of your personal characteristics. 

However, if the unauthorized use has already occurred, an attorney can advise on what legal action to take against companies or individuals who infringe upon your privacy rights. 

The Lyon Firm can protect and defend your image every step of the way, from sending cease-and-desist letters to fighting for your rights in court. 

What Damages Can a Right of Publicity Lawyer Help Me Recover?

Not only can you put a stop to the misuse of your persona, but you may even be able to secure certain remedies if you can demonstrate a violation of the right of publicity: 

  • Monetary compensation
  • Injunctive relief when financial compensation alone is not enough to right the harm done to the individual
  • Reimbursement of the profits earned by the infringer through the use of your image
  • Punitive damages meant to punish the infringer and deter them from doing the same to others in the future 

Digital Media Law: Protect Your Online Identity

With the rise of AI and complex digital technologies, right of publicity has never been more relevant. Today, we must grapple with the increasing challenge of protecting our image and identity in a rapidly advancing virtual world. 

Your identity is a property right, and the right of publicity laws protect our personal identities from being exploited. By law, everyone enjoys the same right of publicity, even though many privacy cases involve famous people.

The right of publicity is a crucial part of your online privacy. In addition to protecting you against unauthorized use of your name or likeness, right of publicity protects you from other invasions of privacy, being put in a false light, defamation, and the publication of false information.

Why Hire The Lyon Firm?

The Lyon Firm has over fifteen years of experience investigating digital media law violations, online invasion of privacy claims, defamation, and right of publicity cases for people nationwide. Thanks to our detailed yet personalized approach, you can rest assured that your case is in good hands.   

Contact us online or call (513) 381-2333 for a free and confidential case review to learn how a right of publicity attorney can safeguard your image and identity. 

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Privacy Settlements

Why Are Right of Publicity Cases Important?

Online privacy and right of publicity cases can result in financial losses and reputational damages. Such losses can have devastating consequences on individuals and families if not properly compensated. Tort law allows those individuals to seek just legal recourse through privacy lawsuits.

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Questions about Right of Publicity Cases

Are There Exceptions to Right of Publicity?

Yes. Exceptions to the right of publicity laws include protections for professional photographers against claims by their subjects, the use of an author’s name in connection with the work of that individual author, and owners of copyrights in sound recordings.

First Amendment considerations may overrule the right of publicity, particularly in artistic expression, film and literature, or when a name is “newsworthy.”

For First Amendment protections to apply, there must be a reasonable connection between the person and the supposed newsworthy material. Names and photos of people appearing in books, magazines, or news articles can usually be used without permission when there is such a connection. 

Also, parodies, public interest matters, and coincidental or indirect use can be used as defenses against right of publicity actions.

How Are Right of Publicity Cases Handled?

The privacy right is usually enforced by civil lawsuits brought in state courts but can also be filed in federal court through a Lanham Act claim.

Is Compensation Available in Right of Publicity Cases?

Legal remedies to privacy cases may include an injunction mandating the removal of the content and punitive damages based on the value of the business held accountable.

What Is the Legal Process?

Pre-Suit Investigation and Negotiations:

Right of Publicity lawsuits are unique and require a thorough investigation before a lawsuit is filed. An initial investigation involves gathering all relevant information. Preservation letters are drafted to notify the defendant of the case. The duty to preserve electronic evidence is critical in most cases to prevent spoliation.

Filing a Privacy Lawsuit: If pre-suit negotiations are unsuccessful, a lawsuit must be filed to preserve the statute of limitations. Filing a lawsuit early in the process is often necessary to gather evidence while the witnesses’ memories are fresh and documents remain available.

Once your attorney files a privacy suit, the court will set a case management schedule, and the parties will begin exchanging information in a process called discovery. Depositions will be taken to preserve trial testimony and understand what certain witnesses are likely to say at trial.

Proving Negligence, Causation, and Damages: In addition to lay witness testimony and other documentary evidence, privacy claims rely upon evidence to prove negligence, causation, and damages. 

Is There a Time Limit for Filing a Lawsuit?

Yes. An action following a right of publicity violation must be brought within four years of a violation.

How Many States Recognize Right of Publicity?

Currently, 24 states, including Ohio, have a right of publicity statute. However, some states differ in their definitions of right of publicity and their terms. For example, some states vary in how long the right lasts after someone dies and may blend right of publicity with other laws like privacy rights.

Can Families Exercise the Statutory Right of Publicity?

Yes, the law makes personal identities property and may be descendible. Like other intellectual property rights, the owner of the right of publicity can exclude others from using the property.

The Ohio right of publicity statute protects living and deceased natural persons for the duration of a person’s lifetime plus 60 years. In addition to the 60-year post-mortem protection, the Ohio right of publicity statute specifically prohibits the unauthorized use of the persona of a deceased member of the Ohio National Guard or the U.S. armed forces for ten years after the date of death.

Can a Business or Website Post Your Image Without Permission?

When a business or website uses your image or likeness without your prior consent or permission, you may have a claim for misappropriation of your likeness.