The Right of Publicity and Autonomous Self-Definition

Mark P. McKenna

Abstract


Arnold Schwarzenegger recently sued a company that was marketing a machine gun-toting bobblehead doll made in his image. Schwarzenegger claimed that the producer was free-riding on the value of his image, violating his right of publicity. But where the Terminator turned Governor of California saw an attempt to exploit his hard-earned reputation, others saw valuable political speech intended to parody Schwarzenegger. The case ultimately settled, but not before drawing attention to the breadth of the current right of publicity, which has expanded to allow claims against an everincreasing range of conduct. As critics of Schwarzenegger’s case recognized, his was only the latest in a long line of (often successful) attempts by celebrities to extend the claim’s boundaries.6 And there is no end to that trend in sight; one can discern no principle in the current doctrine or its dominant theory on which any limitation might be based.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5195/lawreview.2005.73

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