This month’s issue of Ping® highlights some trends in digital advertising. On June 29th, 2021, Illinois passed a Name, Image, Likeness (NIL) law for their colleges and institutions allowing a student-athlete to earn compensation commensurate with market value while enrolled at a postsecondary educational institution, and obtain and retain a certified agent for any matter or activity relating to such compensation. This has prompted some discussions around different states treatment of right of publicity laws. This month’s issue of Ping® briefly compares NY and IL NIL laws.
Illinois vs New York Right of Publicity Acts: Key Differences and Protections
A Brief Comparison of the Illinois & New York Right of Publicity Acts
The Illinois Right of Publicity Act
The Illinois Right of Publicity Act is a state law that protects the commercial value of an individual’s identity. It prohibits the unauthorized use of an individual’s “Identity,” which means any attribute of an individual that serves to identify that individual to an ordinary, reasonable viewer or listener, including but not limited to (i) name, (ii) signature, (iii) photograph, (iv) image, (v) likeness, or (vi) voice. The act also allows individuals to transfer their right of publicity to their heirs after death. However, the Illinois law is unique in that it provides for a broad definition of “commercial purpose,” which includes any use that is “primarily intended for commercial advantage or monetary gain.” This means that even non-commercial uses of an individual’s identity could be considered a violation of the law if they are intended to promote a product or service.
The New York Right of Publicity Act
The New York Right of Publicity Act is another state law that protects an individual’s right to control the commercial use of their name, image, or likeness. However, unlike the Illinois law, New York’s law only applies to uses for advertising or trade purposes. This means that individuals in New York may have less protection against non-commercial uses of their identity. Additionally, the New York law does not provide for the transfer of an individual’s right of publicity after death, meaning that the right to control the commercial use of their identity ends when they pass away.
However, the New York Act provides some post-mortem protection for certain commercial exploitations of individuals’ rights of publicity for 40 years after death for those persons whose publicity rights had commercial value, at the time of or due to, their death. There are a number of other limitations, exceptions and nuances, including that protections only arise from deaths after May 29, 2021.