On August 1, 2012, the State House News Service reported that proposed legislation (S 2382) has been filed to allow “personalities” whose “identity has commercial value” (i.e., artists, athletes and others) to transfer their right of publicity via will in Massachusetts. The aim of this bill is to allow heirs to exercise some control over a famous Massachusetts decedent’s image for a period of 70 years following his or her death.
According to the report, the sponsor of the bill, Senator Stanley Rosenberg of Amherst, explained that “a number of other states have now updated their laws to help protect people’s rights after they pass away with regard to the ownership of their likeness, their voice, their character, etcetera. We just wanted to be sure that we’re state of the art.” If the bill were to become law, Massachusetts would be the 16th state to extend the right of publicity beyond death by statute.
The bill passed the Senate on a “voice vote” and has been sent to the House Committee on Ways and Means.
A copy of the report by the State House News Service can be found here.
This update was authored by Mark Swirbalus, a Director in the firm's Probate & Fiduciary Litigation group. For questions or additional information on this topic, please contact Mark at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact any member of the Probate & Fiduciary group.
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