White v. Samsung Electronics America, Inc.
989 F.2d 1512 (9th Cir. 1993)

  • White was a game show host. Samsung advertised their products using a billboard that was reminiscent of White. She sued for infringement of her right to publicity.
    • The billboard did not depict White in anyway, but showed a robot hosting the same game show in the future (when Samsung products would still be functioning).
  • The Court found for White.
    • The Court found that this was an unacceptable infringement on White’s right to publicity.
    • Although the billboard did not use White’s name or likeness, the Court found that it was reminiscent enough to constitute an infringement.
  • This decision has been strongly criticized for going to far in protecting the right to publicity. In a dissent, it was argued that this decision represents an impermissible restriction on the 1st Amendment and fair use.
    • If it is a violation of the law to even remind the public about someone, is there any fair use left?