July 2006 Volume 28 Number 2
Crisper Stanford has failed in his bid to get a federal court to remand his right of publicity claim back to Tennessee state court, where Stanford originally filed it against his former employer Caesars Entertainment. In his lawsuit, Stanford contends that Caesars violated his right of publicity – a right given to him by Tennessee state law – because it has continued to use ads that feature him in the role of “Loose Slot Louie,” without his consent.
Caesars removed the case to
federal court on the grounds that Stanford’s state law claims are preempted by
the federal Copyright Act. Stanford asked the federal court to send the case
back to state court. But federal District Judge Jon
McCalla has refused to do so.
decisions in other cases have ruled that right of publicity claims are not
preempted by federal copyright law. But Judge McCalla agreed with Caesars that
those decisions were distinguishable.
judge said that Stanford does not claim that Caesars is exploiting his “very
identity or persona . . . as a human being.” Instead, said the judge, Caesars
is using Stanford’s “dramatic portrayal of a fictional character,” and
that character is featured in a copyright-protected advertisement. That “makes
his case unlike those in which courts have found that federal copyright law does
not preempt a state-law right of publicity,” the judge concluded.
this decision did not result in the dismissal of Stanford’s lawsuit – it
simply denied his motion to remand the case to state court – federal
preemption also would be grounds for dismissing it entirely. And that is what is
likely to happen to it next, at least at the District Court level.
v. Caesars Entertainment, Inc.,