White v. Samsung Electronics America, Inc.
989 F.2d 1512 (9th Cir. 1993)
White was a game show host.
Samsung advertised their products using a billboard that was reminiscent
of White. She sued for infringement of her right to publicity.
The billboard did not depict
White in anyway, but showed a robot hosting the same game show in the
future (when Samsung products would still be functioning).
The Court found for White.
The Court found that this
was an unacceptable infringement on White's right to publicity.
Although the billboard did
not use White's name or likeness, the Court found that it was reminiscent
enough to constitute an infringement.
This decision has been
strongly criticized for going to far in protecting the right to
publicity. In a dissent, it was argued
that this decision represents an impermissible restriction on the 1st
Amendment and fair use.
If it is a violation of the
law to even remind the public about someone, is there any fair use left?