Federal Communications Law Journal

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Publication Date


Publication Citation

46 Federal Communications Law Journal 347 (1994)


The right of publicity has allowed celebrities and their licensees to commercially exploit "personality" through ever greater and subtler methods. Two celebrated cases involving entertainers Bette Midler and Tom Waits have expanded the right of publicity to the amorphous realm of vocal performance. The indeterminacy of this new right and the significant damages awarded in the leading cases have left commercial interests confused and hesitant. This Note argues that this new right unjustly rewards a small group of celebrity performers while reducing the economic incentives that encourage the development of new performers. This Note further argues that the right in vocal performance is unsupported by other rationales underlying the right of publicity and will result in unnecessary litigation and unpredictability for commercial interests.