New Right Of Publicity Legislation Could Negatively Impact Athletes

Very talented athletes stand to make more money from off field/court/ice/etc. activities than what they earn based on performing in the trade that they are truly qualified.  Agents, attorneys, and marketers attempt to find and negotiate these deals for their athlete clients.  Often times, those deals are licensing agreements, or at least contain provisions that grant companies a license to use something of and concerning the athletes.

Many states are currently considering new Right of Publicity legislation, which have the potential to limit athletes’ ability to protect their likeness from being used without receiving just compensation.

In Michigan, the legislature will consider whether video games should receive an unqualified exemption from Right of Publicity claims.  If all states passed such a law, athletes would have a very hard time trying to secure millions of dollars from video games manufacturers based on the their use of players’ images and likenesses without their permission.

In New York, proposed legislation not only grants an unqualified exemption on video games, but also greeting cards, games that use multiple personalities, calendars, and t-shirts.  Athletes stand to make a lot of money based on the licensing of their attributes for video games, but multiply that many times over when you consider t-shirts and other apparel.

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