New York Extends Right of Publicity Beyond Death
New York's Civil Rights statute has protected people from the unauthorized use of their name or likeliness for advertising or related purposes. State law, however, did not prohibit the use of the names or likeness of deceased persons for those purposes.
To allow the descendants of deceased celebrities to profit from the commercial exploitation of such celebrities' names or likeness, the statute was recently amended to provide such protection. The new provision states as follows: "Any person who uses a deceased personality's name, voice, signature, photograph, or likeness, in any manner, on or in products, merchandise, or goods, or for purposes of advertising or selling, or soliciting purchases of, products, merchandise, goods, or services, without prior consent from the person or persons specified in subdivision four of this section, shall be liable for any damages sustained by the person or persons injured as a result thereof." A "deceased personality" refers to a deceased New York resident "whose name, voice, signature, photograph, or likeness has commercial value". Consent must be obtained from the transferee or heir of the deceased person.