Thursday, July 19, 2007Home

A bill to protect the images of Monroe, Hendrix...PART TWO

Last month I posted news from PDN about a publicity bill being considered by New York lawmakers. The bill would protect the images of deceased celebrities like Marilyn Monroe, creating a kind of post-mortem publicity security. The bill failed to pass at the end of the session.

Now, in California, Senator Sheila Kuehl is rigorously promoting a similiar bill—SB 771—that many, including the American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP), are saying will give licensing agents like CMG Worldwide greater ability to sue organizations and/or individuals for licensing the image of someone like Marilyn Monroe. The proposed bill is much more specific in its consideration of such parties as CMG, and would tip the scales against photographers with photographic archives, potentially "illegalizing" photographs of the famous deceased..

A Reader writes:

To most people, immortality is a metaphysical concept. In Hollywood, it's a business proposition.

A star who dies young like James Dean or Marilyn Monroe can enjoy a highly profitable afterlife-if they have a good agent.

As it happens, both Dean and Monroe have the same agent: CMG Worldwide, an Indianapolis firm that styles itself as "the premier company for representing the families and estates of deceased celebrities." CMG represents about 250 famous people, most of them dead.

Curiously, the celebrity supporters of California's SB771 are clients of CMG.

From ASMP's website:

The fact of the matter is the recent decisions on Marilyn Monroe by the Federal Judges from the United States District Court for the Central District of California and the Southern District of New York are detailed and well-reasoned and they merely confirm and apply long standing probate, estate and publicity rights laws of the states of California, New York and Indiana.

Worse, this time they are trying to rush it through in stealth mode. They have convinced some members of the Assembly and CA Senator Kuehl to take an existing bill dealing with stem cell research, delete all of its contents, and substitute a retroactive right of publicity bill! The effect of this substitution is to avoid going through all of the normal, preliminary steps that would have been required if the bill had been introduced as a new bill, so that it can be enacted quickly and without notice to interested parties.


The current bill, Senate Bill 771, is being rushed through the state legislature right now by Senator Sheila Kuehl. At this point, it is almost certain to have passed in the State Assembly. It is crucial that you act right away.


Please fax Senator George Runner—a sponsor of the bill. Fax: 916-445-4662

The bill would need to pass both legislative houses and be signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger before becoming law.

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