Sentences to ponder

While the ethics behind holograms of deceased celebrities might be questionable (in the words of a parody Twitter account called Aaliyah’s Ghost, “The best duets imo are the ones where both artists are alive & agreed to work together”), copyright permissions and objections from various estates, in addition to the high costs, have so far prevented “resurrections” from becoming a more widespread trend. For its closing ceremony, the London Olympics scrimped on costs, reviving Freddie Mercury for a duet with Jessie J by broadcasting his image on a flat screen rather than a hologram body. It is hard to imagine the Tupac hologram moving forward without permission from his mother Afeni Shakur. The Marilyn Monroe estate, on the other hand, contested plans for a “Virtual Marilyn” concert organised by Musion partner Digicon Media.

Here is more, from the always interesting Joanne McNeil.


And to think there was a time when being dead was sufficient to have entered the public domain.

It wasn't even that long ago -

'The Celebrities Rights Act or Celebrity Rights Act was passed in California in 1985, which enabled a celebrity's personality rights to survive his or her death.[1] Previously, the 1979 Lugosi v. Universal Pictures decision by the California Supreme Court held that Bela Lugosi's personality rights could not pass to his heirs, as a copyright would have. The court ruled that any rights of publicity, and rights to his image, terminated with Lugosi's death.[2]

California Civil Code section 3344 is for the publicity rights of living persons, while Civil Code section 3344.1, known as the Astaire Celebrity Image Protection Act, grants statutory post mortem rights to the estate of a "deceased personality", where:

* that personality had been "any natural person whose name, voice, signature, photograph, or likeness has commercial value at the time of his or her death",[3]
* any person using such personality's "name, voice, signature, photograph or likeness on or in products, merchandise or goods" without prior consent was liable to be sued for damages and profits arising from the unauthorized use,[4] and
* such prior consent may only be given by persons to whom the personality had transferred such power by contract or trust prior to his death, or by trust or will after his death, or, where no such latter provision was made, his spouse, children, and/or grandchildren,[5] but
* "a play, book, magazine, newspaper, musical composition, audiovisual work, radio or television program, single and original work of art, work of political or newsworthy value, or an advertisement or commercial announcement for any of these works, shall not be considered a product, article of merchandise, good, or service if it is fictional or nonfictional entertainment, or a dramatic, literary, or musical work."[6]

In 1999, the period of protection was extended from fifty years after a person's death to seventy years.[7] Similar laws have been enacted by 12 other states in the United States.'

So what this means is that in 37 states, holograms are completely legal.

'The right of publicity, often called personality rights, is the right of an individual to control the commercial use of his or her name, image, likeness, or other unequivocal aspects of one's identity. It is generally considered a property right as opposed to a personal right, and as such, the validity of the Right of Publicity can survive the death of the individual (to varying degrees depending on the jurisdiction). In the United States, the Right of Publicity is a state law-based right, as opposed to federal, and recognition of the right can vary from state to state.'

Fascinating to see the evolution of America during that time frame, which also included the idea of charging a fee for national park entrance (though at the time, it was never called an admission fee). But rentiers don't even let death stop the fees from coming - or at least giving the impression that they are due.

We've heard from the free rider thief. Any others?

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It's always a shame when the estate allows someone to use the artist's work in a manner the artist likely wouldn't have allowed. Did Jimi Hendrix want his music appearing on car commercials? His estate, aka his estranged, deadbeat dad, had no problem with it. There is also the strange case of John Lee Hooker music showing up on car commercials for the first time only a few months after his death.

Perhaps nobody should be allowed to use an artist's work in a commercial manner in which the artist himself never allowed during his lifetime. The world would no doubt be a better place if nobody had been allowed to update the settings of Shakespeare for the movies (Which is distinct from re-imagining old, archetypal stories themselves). It's not a coincidence that few great writers aspire to write for theater anymore, since the better your work is the more likely it is to be butchered by *creative* future directors.

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One oversight on duets with holograms/flat screens etc, There's a Tear in My Beer with Hank Williams and Hank Williams Jr. Possibly one of the most meaningful "collaborations" in country music history. It gave Jr a chance to do a song with deceased father.


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Is there a field called Ethical Economics? If not, there should be.

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