Privacy and the Right to Publicity

The “right to privacy” basically means that each individual has the right to protect their personal information from public scrutiny. One justice, Louis Brandels referred to it as the “right to be left alone.” Even though one’s right to privacy is not written directly in the US Constitution, there are amendments which provide citizens with some protection of their privacy.

How the Right to Privacy is Protected

In most cases, the right to privacy is protected by what is called statutory law. One example is HIPAA or the Health Information Portability and Accountability Act which protects each individual’s health information. The Federal Trade Commission also enforces this right to privacy on several fronts.

Right to Publicity

In a similar way, the right to publicity is afforded to each individual. Just like each person has the right to keep their own personal information safe, they also have the right to control how their identity is used for commercial promotions. When someone else uses a person’s name or even their likeness it is considered an invasion of their privacy.

Invasion of Privacy

There are four different types of invasion of privacy:

  • Intrusion
  • Appropriation of a name or likeness
  • Unreasonable publicity
  • Presenting someone in a false light

A person has the right to protect his name or image from being commercially exploited without their consent. It is similar to how property rights are handled; but it’s also similar to privacy right.

How to Avoid Violating Someone’s Right of Publicity

In order to avoid violating someone’s right of publicity it is essential to never use their image, likeness, name, voice or signature without gaining their approval. Make sure to get their permission before using any of their personal information for things like:

  • Advertising a product or service
  • Any type of product packaging
  • On any type of merchandise that you are selling