Here is an excellent question: Is a person’s famous face a type of intellectual property? After all, who a person is can mean a lot in making connections, sales and bringing in an income.
The co-anchor for Good Day Philadelphia recently ran into an issue when she realized that a screenshot of her face was being used all over the internet. Sometimes, companies used her face to advertise a dating app. Other times, it would be used to advertise porn sites or for erectile dysfunction cures.
Of course, this would be an embarrassing use of a person’s likeness, especially when they have not agreed to participate in these ads.
Taking the case to court didn’t result in the outcome she expected
Her case took an unexpected turn when a federal judge in Pennsylvania dismissed her lawsuit in 2020. On appeal, the Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) realized what was happening and that performers’ rights could be at risk.
In the case, which is Hepp v. Facebook, the anchor claims that being famous is an asset. She believes that her face is a type of intellectual property and that Facebook and other online sources had violated her right of publicity. She claims that the defendants don’t have the right to profit off her likeness or image.
No resolution has been made yet, but it’s catching legal attention
In this case, there is no resolution as of yet. Still, it has caught the legal community’s attention because what exactly qualifies as intellectual property still has gray areas. Should a person be legally able to profit from their appearance? Should they stop others from using screenshots of their image, especially when they are a public figure? These questions will need to be answered so that others dealing with similar situations can get the help they need to protect themselves and the brands they have built.
If you are dealing with a situation like this, make sure that you pay attention to this case. The outcome could make a difference in your own litigation.