Washington Journal of Law, Technology & Arts


In 2001, the California Supreme Court embarked upon a novel experiment in its right of publicity jurisprudence. The court imported a single element from copyright's fair use analysis. That element—transformative use—has since become an enormously important defense for publicity defendants. Unfortunately, the transformative use doctrine is notoriously protean, and has resulted in significant confusion in publicity law that almost certainly chills protected speech. Many courts seem to lack a clear idea of what a sophisticated transformative use analysis should even look like. This article unpacks these issues and proposes improvements to this difficult legal area.

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