Star Wars: The Battle to Protect the Rights of Publicity of America’s Astronauts

by ROBERT C. O’BRIEN and PAUL A. ALARCÓN –

This article examines the efforts by astronauts to establish and protect their publicity rights. Part Isummarizes the development of the right of publicity generally. Part II discusses the development of that right within California jurisprudence. Part III analyzes the arguments offered against astronauts who have been compelled to protect their publicity rights in court. Finally, Part IV addresses practical concerns arising from the prospect of facing off against an astronaut (or his or her estate) before a jury. This article concludes that an astronaut generally will be able to successfully invoke right-of-publicity laws against companies that use the astronaut’s name or image in products and advertising without securing a license.

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