*Inspired to protect Prince against the sudden exploitation of his name or likeness following his death, a Minnesota legislator is trying to get a law on the books that will protect against such appropriation without consent.
The state has no such a statute at the moment, and Rep. Joe Hoppe (R) has introduced a bill that – according to Minnesota Public Radio – has bipartisan support and is being championed by the trust appointed special administrator of Prince’s estate.
The bill is dubbed the PRINCE Act, an acronym for Personal Rights in Names Can Endure. The text of the proposed law guards against exploitation of voice, name, signature and photograph for at least 50 years, would operate posthumously and, would apply retroactively for those dying before passage – so Prince would be protected.
The bill attempts to carve out “fair use” of one’s name and likeness in news, public affairs or a sports broadcast, although the First Amendment would be the true limitation for a controlling owner. Although there’s no explicit Minnesota statute for likeness protection, there’s a right of privacy in the state and maybe the right of publicity anyway, thanks to Jesse “The Body” Ventura (before he became governor). But nothing postmortem. At least not yet. There’s two weeks left in the legislative session, so the lawmakers are said to be rushing.
(There’s also federal trademark rights enjoyed by many celebrities. In fact, a quarrel with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office over Prince’s attempt to re-register his name ended just days before he died when “Prince” was approved for publication.)
Of course, there’s a potential downside to the high value of one’s name and image. Ask the Michael Jackson estate.