Comedy Iii Productions, Inc. V. Gary Saderup, Inc.

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Comedy III Productions, Inc. v. Gary Saderup, Inc.

Procedural History

* Comedy III Productions brings right of publicity action against Saderup. * Trial court finds in favor of Plaintiff and Saderup violated the right of publicity statute, awarding damages of $75,000. * California Court of Appeal affirmed the Trial Courts decision. * Saderup appealed to the Supreme Court of California

* Supreme Court of California affirms judgment in favor of Comedy III

Issue

Was the appellate court correct in holding that the defendant did violate the terms of the statute and was not protected by the first amendment?

Facts

* Comedy III Productions was the registered owner of all rights of former celebrities known as “The Three Stooges.” * Saderup was an artist producing charcoal drawings of “The Three Stooges.” * The drawings were used to create lithographic prints and T-shirts without Comedy III’s consent. * Saderup used likeness for commercial purposes without consent from Comedy III. * The trial court found in favor of Comedy III and awarded $75,000 in damages. * Saderup appealed on basis that did not violate statute based on protection of the constitutional guarantee of freedom of speech. * Appellate Court affirmed the trial court judgment.

* Saderup argues portraiture involves creative decisions, therefore protected by the First Amendment.

Rule of Law

I. California statute makes liable any person who, without consent, uses a deceased personality’s name, voice, signature, photograph, or likeness for commercial purposes. II. Transformative or creative contribution to depiction was not met for First Amendment protection.

Reasoning

* The holding of the Trial Courts decision by the California Court of Appeals was affirmed. * The First Amendment protection to apply to artists work it must contain significant transformative or creative elements. * The statute in California grants heirs and...
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