Wednesday, January 6, 2010

PETA, Michelle Obama, and Rights of Publicity

When does "saluting" women in an ad become an endorsement? When the anti-war groups used an image of Gen. Petraeus in their ad (here) being critical, was that fair to do without his permission? How about an and that is positive, saying "Fur-Free and Fabulous!" and directing people to the PETA website to "Read all about it"? It doesn't come across, per se, as an endorsement, however, it seems to come very close to crossing a line - but did it cross the line? ExtraTV reports here that the White House is upset about this.

Here's the ad:

PETA's President, Ingrid Newkirk is quoted as acknowledging they didn't get permission because they knew it couldn't be done, however said "the fact is that Michelle Obama has issued a statement indicating that she doesn't wear fur, and the world should know that in PETA's eyes, that makes her pretty fabulous."

What do you think?

(Comments, after the Jump)

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Edward said...

Mrs Obama issued a statement that she doesn't wear fur.


as far as I'm aware this doesn't count as endorsement of an organisation such as PETA who may share a similar view but also has other views that Mrs Obama may or may not agree with.

In any case, they admit that if they asked they would have been denied. It should have ended there.....bad form on the part of PETA.

MarcWPhoto said...

I'm gonna guess that this is close enough to informational usage to fall under the First Amendment, but it's really, really close. Being on the record as not wearing fur is a far cry from actively endorsing a terrorist organization. This ad is this/close to implying active endorsement and voluntary association.

I'd take the case on contingency under IL's ROPA, but that's as much because I despise PETA as because I think I'd win. I'd give it slightly better than even odds of winning in state court and slightly better than even odds of losing in Federal court. The odds are certainly good enough to allow an ethical attorney to file the case, especially since this would probably be a case of first impression for this kind of "advertorial" usage in IL. I at least am not familiar with an appeals case on point.

. said...

Mrs O is a bit of an innocent bystander in all of this, so no, she should not have been photoshopped in. Patreus or Sarah Palin, and Mr O, they chose the public life so they are fair game. And yes, in the eyes of many, she has indeed been slandered by endorsing something that PETA endorses.

mhakola said...

Regardless of my opinions on any given subject, I really worry that ads like this are trending down a dangerous road. I personally tend not to officially identify with many groups because I do not like the idea of someone I don't know speaking (presumably) on my behalf. This is one of those rare instances where I feel a serious lawsuit might be in order to keep people honest.

And seriously, WHAT are those cameras in the background?

Lenn Long said...

Yesterday it was the First Lady, today it's the President. Weatherproof Clothing Co. uses AP newsphoto as a commercial advertising image without a model release or approval from the White House.

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