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Brook. L. Rev.


Recovery in one action under one state's law for violation of the right of publicity-the right to control the commercial use of one's identity-arising out of multistate publication2 seems to be the trend of the nineties. When Samsung ran a nationwide print advertisement for VCRs depicting a robot dressed to resemble her, Vanna White sued for violation of her right of publicity.3 Under California law she recovered $403,000. 4 When a SalsaRio Doritos radio commercial imitating Tom Waits's distinctive raspy and gravelly voice aired nationwide, he sued Frito Lay for violation of his right of publicity.5 Under California law he recovered $2,375,000.6 Bette Midler sued Ford Motor Company for violation of her right of publicity when a television commercial for the Sable, a Ford automobile, imitating her distinctive singing style aired nationwide.7 Under California lav she recovered $400,000. Several similar actions are currently pending. Viola Harris, a New York actress, is suing Sony Pictures Entertainment seeking $250,000 plus punitive damages for violation of her right of publicity. The action followed national advertisements for the Game Show Network which allegedly used Ms. Harris's voice without her consent.9 Another actor, Leonard Tepper, is suing Woody Fraser Enterprises and ABC for over one million dollars for violation of his right of publicity. The action followed national broadcasts by ABC of a television special which allegedly included Mr. Tepper's image without his consent."0 Both Dennis Rodman and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar have filed suits alleging, among other things, violation of their right of publicity." Still more actions are sure to ensue.' While the right of publicity is currently recognized in half the.states, the other half do not recognize this right as a basis for recovery.'