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The Face That Launched a Thousand LawsuitsThe American Women Who Forged a Right to Privacy$
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Jessica Lake

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780300214222

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300214222.001.0001

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Privacy for Profit and a Right of Publicity

Privacy for Profit and a Right of Publicity

(p.150) 5 Privacy for Profit and a Right of Publicity
The Face That Launched a Thousand Lawsuits

Jessica Lake

Yale University Press

This chapter charts the evolution of a right to privacy to a “right of publicity” in US law and argues that if a right to privacy is recognized as a doctrine primarily used by women to control their images, the development of a right of publicity was a logical extension that accorded with women’s increasing participation in the paid work force. In the 1930s, women found new career opportunities in the emerging visual arts industries as dancers, models and actors and a right to privacy was employed by professional women to protect and profit from what Liz Conor has termed their “techniques of appearing”. It is in this context that a right to privacy’s racial dimensions are best examined, particularly the case of Myers v African American Publishing Co involving a claim by a young “tribal” dancer from Harlem who successfully sued over the publication of professional photographs that had been doctored to emphasise her nudity. A right to privacy was also invoked by men to protect their professions of performance (as golfers, bullfighters, boxers and ball players) and despite numerous early cases brought by professional women, it was in this masculine context that “a right of publicity” was first articulated.

Keywords:   Privacy, Publicity, Property, Professional, Work, Display, Images, Race, Masculinity, Performance

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