Celebrity endorsements can be very lucrative deals for Florida entertainers and athletes. However, when companies try to promote their product or their organization by using a celebrity’s prestige without authorization, those celebrities may experience negative impacts on their careers. Many cases in entertainment law involve the unlawful use of a celebrity’s image by companies who seek to make gains at the unknowing celebrity’s expense.
For example, actress Jennifer Love Hewitt has filed a lawsuit against a company for unauthorized use of her name and her image. Hewitt alleges that the company used her image in a spam email promoting the use of the company’s vitamin spray and that she was not aware of and did not consent to the use of her picture for the ad. It is rumored that the company has used Hewitt’s photograph in numerous advertisements unbeknownst to the actress. Hewitt is requesting damages for the unauthorized use of her image as well as an order to stop the company from further use of her photos.
Celebrity endorsement deals often require licensing contracts between the entertainer and the company seeking to use the entertainer’s image or persona. Unlicensed use of a celebrity’s likeness to advertise a product may raise legal issues of privacy among other concerns. In addition, absent an endorsement deal, entertainers and athletes may find their image being used for a product or initiative that the celebrity does not support. Being associated with negative ads or ads that are inconsistent with a celebrity’s principles can have a major impact on the celebrity’s career. In addition, the unauthorized use of a likeness represents a lost opportunity to earn money.
For these reasons, protecting people’s rights to their own image is vital for those interested in maximizing their exposure while controlling their public persona as much as possible. If an unauthorized use is discovered, action can be taken to address the violation and protect one’s intellectual property rights.
Source: Courthouse News, “Jennifer Love Hewitt Sues Spammer,” Matt Reynolds, June 5, 2014