Is Tiger Woods’s Swing Really a Work of Art? Defining the Line Between the Right of Publicity and the First Amendment

Michael R. Suppappola, University of Connecticut School of Law

Abstract

My Comment, “Is Tiger Woods’s Swing Really a Work of Art? Defining the Line Between the Right of Publicity and the First Amendment,” focuses on the controversial “right of publicity,” a legal doctrine which is now recognized in the majority of states either at common law or by statute. The right of publicity allows athletes and celebrities to exclude others from using an entertainer’s likeness or image absent express permission. Although advocates claim that the right is needed to allow celebrities to profit from their own labor and goodwill, my Comment outlines how the right of publicity endangers traditional First Amendment liberties. I conclude that courts should either abolish the right of publicity, or, at a minimum, limit the right to situations in which an entertainer’s likeness is used to confuse the public or threaten the entertainer’s livelihood.