release form for dead person

  • This topic has 4 replies, 1 voice, and was last updated 8 years ago by AvatarAnonymous.
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    • #57690


      If someone is making a commercial and it includes images of my now deceased father do the film makers need a release form from us, the family?
    • #207118

      In the UK not if they're dead. You can't libel or slander the dead, but there is the possibility that if a deceased person is linked with somebody alive, then that person may have a claim – but somebody accidentally or purposely in the video can't give their permission or say no. 

    • #207124

      Depends. The rights to a famous persons image can and has been owned by others, sometimes family and sometimes a studio or other firm. That's something that is changing quite a bit in the US. New laws are coming about in many states that give a person rights to control the use of their image in more ways than in the past. They are typically called "Rights of Publicity" or "Personality rights" but they stand as a "Property" right as far as the law goes. They can be trademarked, registered and passed on after death. 


      It does vary a lot from state to state and like I said even that is changing a lot lately. You would have to check the laws of the state you are in to be sure. It might depend on any "Living" document verbiage or your state might have something else on the books.

    • #207151
      AvatarJennifer O’Rourke

      Hi, bendecko, We sent this question to our legal expert and Videomaker writer, Mark Levy, and he agrees with Woody Sanford's assessment above. Mr. Levy writes:



      It depends. (Does that sound like a lawyer, or what?) Woody Sanford’s comment on the Videomaker web site is accurate.  Each state has different laws regarding the right of publicity. (It would be the right of privacy if he were still alive.)


      One factor is the value of that right of publicity. If your father were as famous as Marilyn Monroe or Elvis, you would have a very good chance of asserting the right of publicity.

      Likewise, if your father gave permission to the producers during his life, you generally  couldn’t be able to undo that permission.


      Asserting a private citizen’s rights after death can be an uphill battle.


      It wouldn’t hurt to communicate with the makers of the commercial, though, to see what they say. They may be willing to settle the case rather than litigate.

    • #207405

      Did they obtain the images before his death? or are they using photos/video and from where did they obtain the images. A slightly different approach but who owns those exact images they are using?


      If they obtained the images before his death they may already have releases signed by your late father which in most cases grants them rights to use the images into perpetuity.

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