As real-world celebrities continue to expand the reach of their persona into the digital realm, the potential benefit for advertisers, game developers and esports event promoters is exceedingly high. But with increased opportunity comes increased risk.
A New York Supreme Court recently addressed this risk when it construed the State’s right of publicity statute in a dispute over an NBA 2K18 video game avatar. In Champion v. Take Two Interactive Software, Inc., celebrity basketball entertainer Phillip “Hot Sauce” Champion sued the video game developer, alleging violation of his right to privacy for Take-Two’s use of his name and likeness. The Court ultimately dismissed the lawsuit, but not before it provided a helpful discussion of New York’s publicity statute and its modern application to the esports industry.
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