Screen Actors Guild Applauds Senator Sheila Kuehl and Governor Schwarzenegger For Reaffirming California’s Postmortem Publicity Rights Law
Los Angeles (October 10, 2007 ) - Screen Actors Guild President Alan Rosenberg applauded the efforts of those who worked hard to enact California State Senator Sheila Kuehl’s legislation (SB 771), designed to protect the images and reputations of deceased celebrities. “Senator Kuehl championed this cause on behalf of creative artists and we commend her for her perseverance. We also thank Governor Schwarzenegger for signing this bill into law. Past, present and future Screen Actors Guild members will benefit from this new projection.”
SB 771 reaffirms California’s protection of posthumous publicity rights for deceased California celebrities and artists by clarifying that these rights may pass to beneficiaries (family members or other heirs) under a deceased celebrity’s will, even if that celebrity died before January 1, 1985.
The fact that this bill passed both houses of the California Legislature without a single negative vote, and has now been approved by the Governor, sends a strong message to those seeking to engage in the unauthorized exploitation of the images and reputations of these creative artists. The law will prevent identity predators from exploiting the images of deceased celebrities who worked hard during their lifetimes to establish their public personas. This bill will preserve the images of American icons such as John Wayne, Alfred Hitchcock, Mae West, John Steinbeck, Bela Lugosi and Marilyn Monroe.
Had this legislation not been enacted, countless deceased personalities would have had their postmortem publicity rights stripped from the beneficiaries they designated in their wills – beneficiaries who have been lawfully exercising those rights for the past 22 years. In many cases, these beneficiaries are hospitals, nonprofit foundations and other charitable institutions whose good work would have been precluded or severely curtailed.
The 120,000 members of Screen Actors Guild are especially grateful to Senator Kuehl and her staff for their extraordinary commitment to this legislation and for their perseverance in ensuring its passage and final enactment. SAG also wishes to acknowledge and thank Marilyn Monroe LLC and its counsel, the law firm of Loeb & Loeb LLP, for bringing this issue to our attention and identifying its significant impact upon the rights of all actors and other personalities who died before 1985.
Finally, SAG extends its sincere appreciation to Platinum Advisors and all those who supported SB 771 throughout the legislative process, especially:
• The 223 Screen Actors Guild members who wrote letters supporting SB 771
• California Labor Federation
• Retired State Senator Bill Campbell (Author of the Original California Law)
• Motion Picture & Television Fund
• Warner Bros.
• Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc.
• Experience Hendrix (Estate of Jimi Hendrix)
• Wayne Enterprises, L.P. (John Wayne Family Partnership)
• Batjac Productions, Inc.
• Corbis Corporation
• Marilyn Monroe LLC
• Cecil B. DeMille Foundation
• The John Steinbeck Family Foundation
• Creative Property Rights Alliance
• Bela G. Lugosi
• Chad McQueen
• Taylor & Faust (Trustee for the Second Residuary Trust of Alfred Hitchcock)