Bill A08155 — Protecting the Publicity Rights of New York Artists and Their Heirs

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  1. If you are a New York artist and resident who is striving to build a lasting legacy;
  2. If you want your heirs to inherit the rights to your name, image, and likeness;
  3. If you are the son, daughter, grandson, or granddaughter of an artist who has made a lasting impact on the cultural legacy of New York;
  4. If you feel strongly that artists and their heirs should have the unequivocal right to determine how the name, image, and likeness of their loved ones are used;

— Then This Applies to You!


Dear Friend,

I would like to bring your attention to a pressing issue that could impact your life, your family's life, and the lives of thousands of other artists, and their families, in the state of New York. 


It is a known fact that New York State has never passed a Bill to adequately protect the RIGHTS OF PUBLICITY of Artists and Entertainers.


What this means is that, the name, image, likeness and other artifacts of an artist's personage (photo, voice, signature, etc) can be exploited, commercially, without any legal protection in the state of New York — and currently, there is nothing that artists, or their families, can do about it.

The copyright law does not protect you because Rights of Publicity are determined at the State level. And New York State has no legislation in place to protect the name and likeness of artists, or their heirs, against commercial exploitation.

As the son and heir of one of the leading trumpeter-composers of the 20th century, Woody Shaw (1944-1989), and as the stepson of one of the most influential saxophonists and jazz figures in this history of American music, Dexter Gordon (1923-1990), this is a matter of deep personal significance for me.


Just think for a moment of how many artists, musicians, writers, dancers, choreographers, poets, composers, actors, playwrights and other creators have contributed to the cultural reputation and economy of New York. 

One could argue that New York's international reputation as a haven for cultural freedom and economic opportunity is the byproduct of dreams depicted by the countless creative visionaries who make up New York's rich cultural heritage. 

Now, also think for a moment of all of the Families, all of the heirs and offspring that are descended from these countless pioneers of art, culture, music, theatre, and entertainment who help produce the cultural wealth of New York.

Think of all the artists who died "nameless," without money in the bank, without healthcare, sometimes without a home, but who nonetheless are still hailed as "pioneers" in their various fields.

Also consider for a moment the "cost" incurred on those families due to the personal "prices" paid by their artist family members. If you are descended from artists who lived and/or worked in New York, then chances are you will know exactly what I'm talking about. 

Imagine for a moment that you are an artist bound to conditions in which anyone — any business, regardless of what they sell or who they represent, can use your image, your name, your signature, your voice, and so on, to sell any-thing they want.

They use your photo? No rights. They use your signature? No rights. They use your name? No rights. They use your voice? No rights! "How is this  possible?" - you ask? Well, because the state of New York does not recognize your Rights of Publicity. It never has.


Now, imagine you are the son or grandson, the daughter or granddaughter of one of the world's most renowned artists, musicians, writers, composers, or dancers. You grow up as a child watching  your parent or grandparent work themselves to the core — making enormous sacrifices to develop their craft, to honor the artistic tradition that they represent, to make people laugh and cry tears of joy, to uplift New York audiences and visiting tourists night after night.

You watched your parent or grandparent give every last bit of their blood, sweat and tears to their craft, perhaps even watched them die in relative obscurity. You've seen their pervasive influence spread across the culture of your city, and yet, the very city to which they gave their lives does not protect them, does not honor their name, their image, or their likeness. 


Does this sound like justice to you? Well, not to me. In fact, I believe this is a very serious problem that has probably injured the economic, cultural, and psychological health (and wealth) of generations of artists, and artist communities, from New York. I also think it is time that we we now TAKE ACTION to change this situation — both for ourselves and for the next generation.


Request New York Senate and Assembly to pass BILL NO. A08155

Deadline: June 21, 2017


[Bill A08155] Establishes the right of publicity for both living and deceased individuals; provides that an individual's name, voice, signature and likeness is the personal property of the individual and is freely transferable and descendible; provides for the registration with the department of state of such rights of a decease."

Sponsor: Morelle
Cosponsor: Weinstein



SAG-AFTRA's team in Government Affairs, Public Policy, and National Organizing is currently lobbying for the New York Legislature to pass a Bill (A08155) that recognizes Artists' RIGHTS OF PUBLICITY — for both LIVING ARTISTS AND HEIRS OF DECEASED ARTISTS. 


If this Bill is important to you, then please Sign and Share This Petition to let the New York Legislature Know ! ! !