Weeks after Prince’s death, the Minnesota Legislature is considering a law to protect artists’ rights to control the use of their name, voice, signature, photo and likeness – even after they die.
The measure would make people civilly liable for using someone’s name or image for advertising, selling merchandise and soliciting donations unless they receive permission.
Newspapers, magazines, television networks and billboards would be exempt from the law.
Lawmakers want to make the proposal effective August 1. The law would cover Prince because it includes people who died before that date.
Minnesota's laws do not address whether someone's right to control the commercial use of their name continues after death, accordng to Joel Leviton, an intellectual property lawyer with the firm representing the special administrator for Prince's estate.
"We're just trying to clarify the law to make sure this right exists in Minnesota," said Leviton, adding that 17 other states already offer similar protections for the commercial use of someone's name after death.
The House is expected to have a hearing on the bill tomorrow. The Senate will hear the proposal on Wednesday.
"Prince's death certainly was the springboard to act on this issue, but it applies to all Minnesotans," Leviton said.