Kanye West and Rihanna are fighting to protect their image in the right to privacy fight. Both are embroiled in lawsuits over the unauthorized use of their likeness by companies who did not provide them with a release form to sign.
According to WebVideoZone.com, a video/appearance release form is a contract that gives permission to use a person’s likeness or image for commercial gain or non profit purposes.
NYPost.com notes Kanye’s image was used without his permission by a group of web developers for commercial gain. The group created a digital currency called “Coinye,” a play on Kanye’s name. The coin also has a likeness of Kanye’ on the front.
The New York Daily News, ran an article that states Kanye’ has since filed a lawsuit in the Manhattan Federal Court claiming, “Defendants have willfully and admittedly traded upon the goodwill and notoriety of Kanye West, one of the most famous entertainers and brand names in the world.” They are being sued by Kanye’ for copyright infringement.
Atlanta area based Tammy Williams, CEO of Open Rivers Pictures, the first facility of its kind licensed to an African American woman in the state of Georgia, deals with celebrities in television productions such as “Sesame Street,” “Stellar Gospel Music Awards,” “My Destiny Place” and the “Trumpet Awards” on a daily basis. She says, “The release form is extremely important as it gives the copyright holder of the film or television project, or any project, the permission to use the talent’s likeness. If not, the project can’t be released to the public without the fear of being sued.”
Like Kanye’, singer and actress Rihanna, took legal action to stop the unlawful use of her image by others for commercial gain. This is another case where a release form was not sought beforehand. As stated in huffington.post, Rihanna is suing London retailer, Arcadia Group Brands, LTD., to stop it from using her image. The retailer was selling T-shirts with Rihanna’s photo on them at its TopShop fashion store chain. According to huffingtonpost.com, Arcadia Brands, LTD did not license or seek permission to use Rihanna’s image on the T-shirts, yet they were selling them and passing them off as if they were approved and authorized by the star.
Williams says this and other lawsuits could be as easily avoided. “The goal is to get the release signed before you start production, period!