Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

Editor: Gerry W. Beyer
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Wednesday, May 25, 2005


Schadenfreude, the German term for taking pleasure in the misfortunes of others, is the focus of a well-researched and very entertaining article recently published by Prof. Drennan of the Southern Illinois University School of Law.

Below is a summary of the article as found on LexisNexis:

A commercial firm's advertisement to sell its product features a caricature or manipulated image of a deceased celebrity engaging in an offensive act. ... Nevertheless, often a celebrity (or her heir after death) can exploit the celebrity's name, likeness, or identity for commercial purposes in many harmless ways, particularly after the celebrity's death. ... If one balances the interests of (i) the eccentric celebrity who desires to absolutely destroy her right of publicity; (ii) the fans who enriched the celebrity and want to be reminded of her image and work; and (iii) the heirs of the estate who have a financial interest in reasonably managing the commercial use of the decedent's identity, the balance should tip in favor of the fans and the heirs. ... However, when the "no disgraceful use" restriction actually reduces the value of the celebrity's right of publicity, one might question whether persons entering into an arms'-length transaction would include a "no disgraceful use" restriction.

William A. Drennan, Wills, Trusts, Schadenfreude, and the Wild, Wacky Right of Publicity: Exploring the Enforceability of Dead-Hand Restrictions, 58 Ark. L. Rev. 43 (2005).


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