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T&E Litigation Update - 8/7/12

August 2012Advisories

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 [email protected] or contact any member of the Probate & Fiduciary group.

This newsletter should not be construed as legal advice or legal opinion on any specific facts or circumstances. The contents are intended for general informational purposes only, and you are urged to consult your own lawyer concerning your situation and any specific legal questions you may have.

Pursuant to IRS Circular 230, please be advised that, this communication is not intended to be, was not written to be and cannot be used by any taxpayer for the purpose of (i) avoiding penalties under U.S. federal tax law or (ii) promoting, marketing or recommending to another taxpayer any transaction or matter addressed herein.


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