Court Upholds Right to License Celebrity Images

This week the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the dismissals of two right of publicity claims against Corbis Corp. — Shirley Jones v. Corbis Corp. and Alberghetti v. Corbis Corp. In the Jones case, the court held that Shirley Jones, star of the TV show “The Partridge Family,” had given her implicit consent to use her likeness in photographs when she attended highly-public red-carpet events. The court noted that Corbis operated within well-known and established industry customs in relying on her implied consent to the photographs’ distribution. In the Alberghetti case, the court held that the two-year statute of limitations on right of publicity claims in California had expired before the plaintiffs filed their lawsuit. In both cases the court declined to rule on the arguments that the right of publicity claims were preempted by the Copyright Act, and in both cases the court awarded Corbis attorneys’ fees.

CDAS submitted, and the court accepted, amicus briefs in both matters supporting Corbis on behalf of the trade association of image libraries, Picture Archive of America (PACA), and the American Society of Media Photographs (ASMP), among others.