Le Morte d’Elvis: The Birth of New Claims as New York Recognizes Post-Mortem Right of Publicity

Pratt’s Privacy & Cybersecurity Law Report May 2021

James P. Flynn, Managing Director of the Firm and Member in the Litigation and Employment, Labor & Workforce Management practices, in the firm’s Newark office, authored an article in Pratt’s Privacy & Cybersecurity Law Report, titled “Le Morte d’Elvis: The Birth of New Claims as New York Recognizes Post-Mortem Right of Publicity.”

Following is an excerpt (see below to download the full version in PDF format):

The author of this article explains the legal issues associated with whether postmortem publicity rights are available in various jurisdictions.

Long before the birth of Elvis Presley in 1935, and even longer before his recent 86th birthday on January 8, 2021, King Arthur was the legendary king of choice, and his story was most completely told in Le Morte d’Arthur by Sir Thomas Malory. Hence, we embrace the paraphrased allusion in the title above, to both Arthur and the King of Rock-n-Roll, who despite his absence from the public stage since 1977 remains a brand.

Thus, Elvis is a good example of what a lay person would call post-mortem publicity rights, as his brand remains one today valued at over $300 million. What also is interesting is the role Elvis and his estate can play in explaining the legal issues associated with whether post-mortem publicity rights are available in various jurisdictions.

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