Right of Publicity Law


Privacy Attorney Reviewing Right of Publicity Cases & Digital Media Law for plaintiffs Nationwide
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Invasion of Privacy Attorney

reviewing the Ohio right of publicity law

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

The right of publicity is the right to control, in some essence, commercial exploitation of a person’s name, image and persona. This law is typically associated with celebrities, though 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.

For moderate to serious online media law offenses, it is not advisable to resolve a claim without professional counsel. You will not pay any fee unless The Lyon Firm is able to reach a settlement and compensate you fully for damages. A free consultation with Joe Lyon regarding the legal use of digital media is your right.

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. 

Right of Publicity Lawsuits

The Ohio statute protects the following aspects of an individual’s persona, if they have defined commercial value:

  • Name: includes a first name or a nickname, assumed name, stage name and anything that is sufficient to identify a particular person.
  • Voice: includes voice impersonations
  • Signature
  • Photograph: includes any portion of a person that is sufficient to recognize that person
  • Image
  • 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.

What Defines a “Commercial Purpose?”

The statute in Ohio defines “commercial purpose” as the use of any aspect of an individual’s persona in the following manners:

  • 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

Digital Media Law: Protect Your Online Identity

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 the majority of privacy cases involve famous men and women.

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

The Lyon Firm is investigating digital media law violations, online invasion of privacy claims, defamation and right of publicity cases for plaintiffs in Ohio and nationwide. Call for a free and confidential case review.

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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

Who has the right of publicity?

Although the right of publicity is commonly associated with celebrities, every person, regardless of how famous, has a right to prevent unauthorized use of their name or image to sell products. This right also prohibits any implication that a person endorses a product (without the person’s permission).

Are there exceptions?

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, in film or literature, or when a name is “newsworthy.”

In order 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 with a reasonable connection between the individual and the material.

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.

What are some recent examples of lawsuits?

A Washington federal judge has recently refused to dismiss a case against Whitepages Inc. that alleges the web site unlawfully uses individuals’ names and other identifying characteristics to entice visitors to their site.

Is compensation available in right of publicity cases?

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

Why Hire The Lyon Firm?

Joe Lyon has over fifteen years of experience, and regularly files class action and invasion of privacy cases for plaintiffs nationwide. Call The Firm for a free consultation and to discuss your legal options.

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

Once a privacy suit is filed by your attorney, the court will set a case management schedule and the parties will begin exchanging information in the formal process of discovery. Depositions will be taken to preserve testimony for trial and to 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 and 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.

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 likeness.


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