Washington Law Review


Edgar Sargent


This Comment proposes a new cause of action for tarnishment of the right of publicity. The claim would protect the rights holder from uses that create offensive or degrading associations and thus harm the value of the protected persona. To prevent undue constraint upon First Amendment protected speech about public figures, publicity rights protection must be carefully balanced against free speech interests. In most cases, a speaker's right to refer to a public figure will be superior to the publicity rights holder's interest in controlling the manner in which a persona is used. However, publicity rights holders should prevail when they can establish that the defendant's speech is not entitled to full First Amendment protection.

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