"I move for a 'bad court thingy'."
June 18, 2013 5:01 PM   Subscribe

Scarlett Johansson is suing the author of a best-selling French novel that features her “doppelgänger.”
"The American star is challenging writer Gregoire Delacourt, and his publisher JC Lattes, after he described a character in his novel as being her "doppelgänger", or exact double. The case — if it comes to court — could make legal and literary history."
posted by Fizz (83 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
Well that's idiotic.
posted by brundlefly at 5:05 PM on June 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


Which? The lawsuit, or writing a novel featuring a Scarlett Johansson doppelgänger?
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 5:07 PM on June 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


And yet Tom Waits refrained from suing her for this.
posted by scody at 5:08 PM on June 18, 2013 [9 favorites]


The former.
posted by brundlefly at 5:10 PM on June 18, 2013


I walked right into a girl, broadsided her, felled her like a tree. I saw, to my horror, that it was Jennifer Lopez.

You know how to tell if you've been single too long? When you help a girl to her feet and get a rush of excitement for the two seconds you hold her hand on the way up.

"Jeez, sorry," I said as Jennifer picked up her beer bottle. "I was walking away from, uh, you know, voodoo. Thing. Flying voodoo man."

She was in denim shorts and a tank top, hair in a ponytail. I guess I should point out that this was not the famous Jennifer Lopez, but rather a local girl I was fond of who happened to have that same name. I guess it would have made a better story if it turned out to be the singer/actress and if you want to picture J. Lo whenever I mention this girl, feel free, even though my Jennifer only looked like the famous one when she was walking away from you.


-John Dies at the End, David Wong
posted by Sebmojo at 5:10 PM on June 18, 2013 [6 favorites]


My guess is her publicist heard somebody at Cleo get her confused with Jessica Biel, and they figured she needed some quick name recognition.
posted by Mooski at 5:12 PM on June 18, 2013


Well that's idiotic.

It's ScarJo, so it's cutely idiotic.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:13 PM on June 18, 2013


That is utterly mad. I hope the case gets thrown out of court and ScarJo is fined for wasting the court's time.
posted by Athanassiel at 5:16 PM on June 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


"literary" "history"
posted by thelonius at 5:16 PM on June 18, 2013


He should have written a scene with her selling vacuum cleaners, then it would be perfectly legal.
posted by Kevin Street at 5:18 PM on June 18, 2013


I smell opportunity. All those lawyers that were making money by suing file sharers and now go after the fan-fic writers. Win-win.

Or. It's stupid.
posted by Bonzai at 5:18 PM on June 18, 2013


“I am also very sad,” he told the newspaper Le Figaro. “I was hoping that she might send me flowers because this book is, in a way, a declaration of love.”

That is the part of the story that makes me uncomfortable.

Google is failing me right now, but somebody did a similar thing where he wrote a book about a fictional character who became a drummer in Camper Van Beethoven. At least one of the former members thought that it painted him in a really bad light, and there was another legal kerfuffle over that. I can't say I remember what happened, though.
posted by Going To Maine at 5:18 PM on June 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


French privacy laws and libel laws are radically different from US ones, so it might be wise to refrain from commenting on the self-evident "absurdity" of the case--at least from a strictly legal standpoint--unless you know something about French law.
posted by yoink at 5:18 PM on June 18, 2013 [6 favorites]


I'm sure j. Lo wouldn't sue though, she's cool. She's still jenny from the block.
posted by windykites at 5:22 PM on June 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


Unless there is some French law that would cover this in a way I can't fathom (always a possibility), I can't see why this would move forward. So far as I can tell from the description (sorry, haven't had time to Google-translate from French, yet), the book makes no claims to represent the actual Scarlett or even a true doppelgänger (in the sense of having any connection to the real Scarlett). It's a classic mistaken identity gambit. And it's total bullshit, even if there is a French law that prohibits it.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 5:22 PM on June 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


"She is also seeking to ban all foreign translations and film adaptations of the book – despite the fact that Scarlett Johansson is the perfect choice of actress for the role of a woman who looks like Scarlett Johansson, this being the most obvious job opportunity in cinema since John Malkovich appeared in Being John Malkovich."
posted by whyareyouatriangle at 5:24 PM on June 18, 2013 [17 favorites]


Drummers for Camper van Beethoven don't generally have the same pull as top-tier Hollywood actresses.
posted by item at 5:24 PM on June 18, 2013


"...since John Malkovich appeared in Being John Malkovich."

One of his best roles!
posted by Kevin Street at 5:25 PM on June 18, 2013


since John Malkovich appeared in Being John Malkovich

A common mistake. That was actually Daniel Day-Lewis.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 5:26 PM on June 18, 2013 [50 favorites]


A common mistake. That was actually Daniel Day-Lewis.

Actually it was Meryl Streep.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 5:28 PM on June 18, 2013 [12 favorites]


Ah, it's the French. I'm not going to be surprised if they find in her favor based on the legal principle of tellement charmante.
posted by benito.strauss at 5:29 PM on June 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


"French privacy laws and libel laws are radically different from US ones, so it might be wise to refrain from commenting on the self-evident 'absurdity' of the case--at least from a strictly legal standpoint--unless you know something about French law."

I think we can safely label this absurd, regardless. It's a novel about a character who is not Scarlett Johansson but happens to look exactly like Scarlett Johansson. From the link, it seems that the novel doesn't characterize Scarlett Johansson in any way, she is not in any sense a character in this book.

So would her objection apply to a character whose appearance is very much like, but not exactly like, an actual person? Someone in a novel who successfully impersonates an actual person? Someone in a novel who wears a costume as an actual person? Someone in a science-fiction novel who uses some technology to make themselves appear identical to an actual person? How about someone in a novel who pretends to be an actual person in an online game? Should novels never even mention any actual person at all?
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 5:30 PM on June 18, 2013 [4 favorites]


The novels might need a disclaimer like on Law And Order when they say that tonight's episode that totally copies a well known murder from last year isn't based on real events.
posted by Kevin Street at 5:33 PM on June 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


For what it's worth, the opening line of the book is "Arthur Dreyfuss liked big breasts". She's later called (by the main character I presume) "the most beautiful breasts in Hollywood". The lawsuit is silly but I can somehow understand that Johansson thought that there was something problematic in the book if she was reduced to a walking pair of large, beautiful breasts, particularly if she does not read French and if it's not clear until page 60 that the character is not her.
posted by elgilito at 5:34 PM on June 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


perhaps try J. Carlett Sohansson [pdf]
posted by whyareyouatriangle at 5:35 PM on June 18, 2013


since John Malkovich appeared in Being John Malkovich

A common mistake. That was actually Daniel Day-Lewis.

Actually it was Meryl Streep.


All of you fools. It was Thomas Pynchon.
posted by Fizz at 5:38 PM on June 18, 2013


It's always Thomas Pynchon.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 5:39 PM on June 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


I have no idea if this is somehow an actionable appropriation of ScarJo's likeness or right to profit from her reputation under French law, but as a baseline the EU does have stronger privacy protections than does the US.
posted by snuffleupagus at 5:39 PM on June 18, 2013


it is always Thomas Pynchon
posted by whyareyouatriangle at 5:39 PM on June 18, 2013


since John Malkovich appeared in Being John Malkovich

Malkovich played Malkovich, but in every performance since, the role of John Malkovich has been played by Orson Bean.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 5:41 PM on June 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


And yet Tom Waits refrained from suing her for this.

Scarlett Johansson actually has a terrific voice. There's something rather unpleasantly sexist and knee-jerky about the way that Waits album got shat on. That's not to say that you, personally, are responding in such a way; perhaps you listened to it with an open mind and just really don't like her interpretations. But the immediate assumption on many people's parts that an attractive young actress couldn't possibly have any valid artistic engagement with Waits's songs really ticked me off.
posted by yoink at 5:49 PM on June 18, 2013 [5 favorites]


as a baseline the EU does have stronger privacy protections than does the US

Actually there have been a few high profile lawsuits in France recently involving well-known writers (or celebrities) who played fast and loose with other people's privacy. And of course there's this book by Marcela Iacub, a researcher who slept for 7 months with Dominique Strauss-Khan so that she could write about it. DSK has threatened to sue Iacub but he's got a lot on his plate already.
posted by elgilito at 5:52 PM on June 18, 2013


I wish I knew anything about the underlying laws here. As described, it sounds both stupid and chilling. This book doesn't sound interesting as a book, but that's not the point.

Even just limiting ourselves to famous actresses who are not otherwise known for their singing, Milla Jovovich is a much better singer than Scarlett Johansson.
posted by Sticherbeast at 5:54 PM on June 18, 2013


I hope this doesn't have any legal implications for my novel about Scarlet Johansson's doppelgänger's twin sister's doppelgänger. (Surprise twist: Scarlet Johansson's doppelgänger's twin sister's doppelgänger is Scarlet Johannson. It's very meta.)
posted by uosuaq at 5:55 PM on June 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


* writes novel about a Houellebecq doppelgänger writing novel about Scarlett Johansson a look-alike *
posted by sandettie light vessel automatic at 5:56 PM on June 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


Spot the Can-do-no-wrong SJ fan! It is idiotic, the lawsuit, French law nonwithstanding. Publish it in America, we will grant asylum. FFS
posted by lordaych at 5:59 PM on June 18, 2013


What would be neat? Is if ScarJoDoppelgängeren became a genre. Let's make it happen, people.
posted by sandettie light vessel automatic at 6:00 PM on June 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


* becomes a Scarlett Johansson doppelgänger, writes an autobiography *
posted by Sticherbeast at 6:01 PM on June 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


I guess I should point out that this was not the famous Jennifer Lopez

So, not the one on the Weather Channel?
posted by octobersurprise at 6:02 PM on June 18, 2013


Idiotic is probably not right. "Dick move" and "absurd" are more appropriate. SWIDT?
posted by lordaych at 6:03 PM on June 18, 2013


Yeah, I'm with yoink: it's a unique jurisdiction. But apart from that, the linked article provides next to nothing by way of detail. I can see how a celebrity might want to assert/test the bounds of privacy protection. I don't necessarily see this as hollow vexatious litigation; but of course, we don't know. Yet.
posted by peacay at 6:04 PM on June 18, 2013


Can the author instead be sued for being both a pretentious hack and a creep?
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 6:07 PM on June 18, 2013


I hope not.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 6:09 PM on June 18, 2013


Yeah, we'd all be in trouble.
posted by Kevin Street at 6:17 PM on June 18, 2013


It's always Thomas Pynchon.

Surely, it's always Tilda Swinton.

Except when it's David Bowie.
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:23 PM on June 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


"Can the author instead be sued for being both a pretentious hack and a creep?"

"I hope not."

Ha!

But, seriously, per my previous comment, I think that as a matter of law, protecting likeness/privacy in this fashion would do more harm than good. I'll admit that I'm not totally thrilled with disallowing fictionalizing a real person, either, but I can go along with that.

However, disallowing a fictional character that merely resembles a real person, is a different, and much worse thing.

I think that people might take issue with my "resembles" in that sentence, but that's what this (purportedly) is. If it's someone who physically looks like a real person but who, in the narrative, is not that person, doesn't have that person's memories or experiences or even that person's personality ... that's just not a depiction of the real person. It's a depiction of someone who resembles a real person.

This would still matter within the realm of photography, because that physical likeness is actually something that performers like Johansson have a right to control. (So, for example, a film using CGI about a character who happens to look exactly like Johansson.) But within the context of a non-visual medium, then, well, no.

And this bothers me also because I can imagine all sorts valid, worthwhile, interesting things that can be done with the concept of a character who people mistake for Real Person X.

That said, it's also possible that this author or someone like him could simply be a creep who wants to fictionalize Johansson but do so by claiming that his protagonist is only a doppelgänger. The proof is in the pudding. I'm not sure how I'd want that to play out, legally.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 6:23 PM on June 18, 2013


Scarlett Johansson actually has a terrific voice.

How can you tell? Certainly not from that album. She should sue the sound engineers for giving her voice no space, undermixed, and overprocessed. It's just a mess.
posted by surplus at 6:24 PM on June 18, 2013


Isn't being iconic the whole point of fame?
posted by desuetude at 6:32 PM on June 18, 2013


It's awful that it's becoming a legal case. Shouldn't there just be a way we could punish the author out of court for lack of imagination and poor taste? (Yeah, I know, him and every other novelist except MeFi's Own JScalzi)
posted by oneswellfoop at 6:43 PM on June 18, 2013


For what it's worth, the opening line of the book is "Arthur Dreyfuss liked big breasts".

The complete sentence is "Arthur Dreyfuss aimait gros seins et il ne pouvait pas mentir."

My French is a little rusty, but I believe a pretty close rendering would be "Arthur Dreyfuss liked big breasts, and he could not lie."
posted by Naberius at 6:46 PM on June 18, 2013 [5 favorites]


My French is a little rusty, but I believe a pretty close rendering would be "Arthur Dreyfuss liked big breasts, and he could not lie."

Yeah, Delacourt hasn't helped his cause much by writing a book that seems to make a mockery of literature itself. This review suggests that his work gives Dan Brown a run for his money.
posted by Cash4Lead at 7:01 PM on June 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


"French privacy laws and libel laws are radically different from US ones, so it might be wise to refrain from commenting on the self-evident 'absurdity' of the case--at least from a strictly legal standpoint--unless you know something about French law."

No, the case is absurd and if it's legit under French law, French law is also absurd.

Calling it absurd isn't an assessment of its legal merits.
posted by kenko at 7:14 PM on June 18, 2013 [4 favorites]


Some commentary on English, German and French defamation law here (pdf).
posted by BWA at 7:17 PM on June 18, 2013


I don't know how it would be cognized under French civil law, but conceptually the problem isn't just defamation, it's potentially an appropriation of some celebrity's name and likeness, in which they have property interests, to make profits without a license. Consider a stage name, for instance--or Prince's name-symbol thing--which is more clearly an artificial commercial brand whose value is built up by the celebrity's career.

On the other hand, what does France protect in terms of satire and parody of celebs and public figures?
posted by snuffleupagus at 7:31 PM on June 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Arthur Dreyfuss aimait gros seins et il ne pouvait pas mentir.

Les autres frères ne pouvez pas nier...
posted by erniepan at 7:53 PM on June 18, 2013 [12 favorites]


> conceptually the problem isn't just defamation, it's potentially an appropriation of some celebrity's name and likeness, in which they have property interests, to make profits without a license.

He has described a fictional character in a novel as looking like Scarlett Johansson. The character is not named Scarlett Johansson. He's not claiming that the book is about Scarlett Johansson. He's not speaking as her. The story is told in words, not pictures of Ms. Johansson. How on earth is that appropriating her name and likeness?
posted by desuetude at 8:17 PM on June 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


", this being the most obvious job opportunity in cinema since John Malkovich appeared in Being John Malkovich."

Except that in the movie, John Malkovich was playing John Malkovich. Has there ever been a movie where an actor was playing a character in which it was commented upon that the character looked very much like the actor who was portraying that character?
posted by deanc at 8:27 PM on June 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yes. Ocean's Twelve. Julia Roberts. It was a "plot" point.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 8:29 PM on June 18, 2013 [7 favorites]


Arthur Dreyfuss aimait gros seins et il ne pouvait pas mentir.

Les autres frères ne pouvez pas nier...


Quand une fille se promène avec une toute petite taille et une chose ronde dans votre visage vous êtes fait bondir!
posted by Cash4Lead at 8:41 PM on June 18, 2013 [5 favorites]


Didn't That other guy write a book with characters named Halley Joel Osment and XYZ(don't remeber)? (I'm not saying writers name intentionally because feh on him).
Shouldn't he be up for it as well?
No, this is silly. I remember reading somewhere that ms. Johansson had especially hard-core 'minders.' I'd put this up to the lawyers making work for themselves. I know, hard to believe.
posted by From Bklyn at 9:00 PM on June 18, 2013


How on earth is that appropriating her name and likeness?

By the logic that if not for the reference to her name and likeness the character could and would not exist, and the real life person's marketability as a celebrity is the book's main selling point (apparently). On a conceptual level, ScarJo arguably has a right to profit from commercial use of her name, her fame and a prose invocation of her appearance, if that is all this fictionalized character is; and to set limits on the use of her name etc. I don't know how much additional characterization there is, and I'm not saying she should win, I'm just saying the question isn't soley whether she was defamed. Or so I'd expect.
posted by snuffleupagus at 9:17 PM on June 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


And, yes, without out and out naming the character after her it would seem a thin reed. But defamation seems even more unlikely.
posted by snuffleupagus at 9:24 PM on June 18, 2013


Oh for fuck's sake.
posted by homunculus at 9:34 PM on June 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'll admit that I'm not totally thrilled with disallowing fictionalizing a real person, either, but I can go along with that.

Can you? How about fictionalizing a real dead person? I assume you're not all right with disallowing a fictionalization of Napoleon Bonaparte? Ok, now how about disallowing fictionalizing a more recently dead person? One whose heirs or spouse are still alive? Or a more distantly dead person but who has an estate worth lots of money, like Walt Disney? Or Tolkien? Should Tolkien's estate and heirs be able to prevent a fictionalization of the man? If so, exactly how dead does a person have to be before it's allowed? A thousand years? A hundred years?

I think you're downplaying the problematic aspects of the situation.
posted by Justinian at 9:40 PM on June 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


"I think you're downplaying the problematic aspects of the situation."

No, that's why I said that I'm not comfortable with disallowing it, but I will accept it. Because, yeah, on one extreme I think it's fine to fictionalize Napoleon while, on the other extreme, I don't think it's okay to fictionalize a living, non-famous person. And then, in between, there is that vast territory where one becomes the other.

I totally don't have any sense of where I think it's best to draw a line, if you had to decide to draw a line dividing okay from not okay.

But I do think that a fictional character who, by design, shares some characteristics with a real person is a different kettle of fish. I can imagine this being not okay, but I think the presumption would be that it's okay and there'd be a high bar to clear to prove that it's not. For example, showing that although explicitly not the real person, the character is portrayed in every important sense as the real person. (It's not Scarlett Johansson but seems to have her personality and memories and appearance, for example.)
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 10:13 PM on June 18, 2013


"Has there ever been a movie where an actor was playing a character in which it was commented upon that the character looked very much like the actor who was portraying that character?"

There was a weird mini-vogue for that sort of thing on 1970s sitcoms. Robin Williams "guest starred" as himself on Mork and Mindy, Redd Foxx "guest starred" on Sanford and Son, and there are probably other examples I'm not thinking of.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 10:20 PM on June 18, 2013


One of the ways you maintain control of a trademark is to defend it.

Sometimes high-profile trademark holders will see someone using their name in a way that obviously doesn't qualify as infringement, and file suit anyway, or at least send a cease and desist.

Usually no full fledged court battle comes of it. It gets dropped. But a wealthy entity often does this as an investment in future court cases. Spend a few thousand filing, and later, you can show a previous court document as proof that you rigorously defend your trademark.

Another thing that happens in these situations is that lawyers are making decisions without talking to PR people or the boss for long enough. Then you get a losing case filed that also makes the boss look like a bully. Bad PR. But not an uncommon turn of events.
posted by MeanwhileBackAtTheRanch at 12:58 AM on June 19, 2013


deanc: Has there ever been a movie where an actor was playing a character in which it was commented upon that the character looked very much like the actor who was portraying that character?

The earliest example I can think of is in His Girl Friday, from 1940, a character played by Ralph Bellamy is described as looking like "that fellow in the movies, what's his name, Ralph Bellamy." I figure this trope probably goes back even further, though.
posted by Kattullus at 3:04 AM on June 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


So either Shatnerquake hasn't been translated into French or Bill has a better grasp on reality than Scarlett.
posted by rock swoon has no past at 8:06 AM on June 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Ivan Fyodorovich: "I think you're downplaying the problematic aspects of the situation."

No, that's why I said that I'm not comfortable with disallowing it, but I will accept it. Because, yeah, on one extreme I think it's fine to fictionalize Napoleon while, on the other extreme, I don't think it's okay to fictionalize a living, non-famous person. And then, in between, there is that vast territory where one becomes the other.

I totally don't have any sense of where I think it's best to draw a line, if you had to decide to draw a line dividing okay from not okay.
Here's the two-word problem with drawing any sort of line at all about this: Citizen Kane.
posted by IAmBroom at 8:48 AM on June 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Orson Welles didn't wear a W.R. Hearst rubber mask while performing that role. Similarly in Chinatown it's 'Mulwray' instead of Mulholland. Of course, those roles really were analogues of the real-life figures in a pseudo-historical retelling, not just an appropriation of their appearance. And so the name changes do protect against direct defamation (journalistic corruption, incest).

If all that's borrowed is her appearance, then there really is nothing to it, as if you go out in public your appearance is not private (just like a hack writer might describe a beautiful woman as looking like Marilyn Monroe or...I dunno....Helen of Troy.). The question is whether this doppelganger thing is just an excuse to cut-and-paste ScarJo into his novel as an attractant to her fans, so as to make money off of people into all things ScarJo.

It's almost like this novelist is a victim of his own half-cleverness. If he had described the character's features as looking like ScarJo's, probably safe. If he had made other characters think about or remark on how much she looks like ScarJo, probably safe. But by using this 'doppelganger' language, ScarJo's persona is sort of 'cloned' in entirety, with some additions, so the author can trade on her fandom. That seems to me the peg this must hang on.

I agree with the concerns about chilling effects and would be fine with seeing the suit dismissed (or whatever France does) but it is sort of interesting.
posted by snuffleupagus at 9:10 AM on June 19, 2013


(Of course, Mulholland was long dead when Chinatown was made.)
posted by snuffleupagus at 9:20 AM on June 19, 2013


Calling it absurd isn't an assessment of its legal merits.

Which is a really bizarre (one might say "absurd") response to a comment containing this disclaimer:
so it might be wise to refrain from commenting on the self-evident 'absurdity' of the case--at least from a strictly legal standpoint--unless you know something about French law.
posted by yoink at 9:25 AM on June 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is what happens when you don't give every one of your characters a small penis.
posted by ckape at 10:37 AM on June 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


The "small penis rule" is a joke that people take much too seriously. As mentioned in the Wikipedia article ckape linked to, journalist Michael Crowley responded to Michael Crichton's attempt to belittle him in this fashion. Crowley's response manages to use Crichton's silly attack as a way to show Crichton as a small, bitter bullshit-peddler.
posted by Kattullus at 11:50 AM on June 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


"Has there ever been a movie where an actor was playing a character in which it was commented upon that the character looked very much like the actor who was portraying that character?"

This is a central plot point in Ocean's Twelve. Tess (played by Julia Roberts) poses as Julia Roberts to pull off the heist. Haven't seen it, but did see a South Park episode where Matt & Trey ranted about the device.
posted by Going To Maine at 12:06 PM on June 19, 2013


Scarlett Johansson seems to have an ongoing issue with people who look just like her.

I would imagine there is plausible grounds for a lawsuit here, depending on how French law views Right of Publicity. Describing a character incidentally as looking like a celebrity is probably not a big deal (though it'll tend to cause your book to quickly seem dated) but hinging your entire plot on how your main character is exactly like a celebrity is pushing a lot further into using that celebrity's name and public image to your own benefit.
posted by jacquilynne at 12:18 PM on June 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


See, this is why you should actually do some work and describe your characters instead of being lazy-assed and just claiming they look like a famous person. I hate that shit. Go Scarlett.
posted by jenfullmoon at 4:12 PM on June 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


hinging your entire plot on how your main character is exactly like a celebrity is pushing a lot further into using that celebrity's name and public image to your own benefit.

So...what about, say, Melvin and Howard, or Angels in America, or Insignificance?
posted by Sticherbeast at 4:19 PM on June 19, 2013


I'm not really that familiar with the history of any of those things. The only one I've even heard of is Angels in America, but just from looking things up briefly, it seems like it could be a couple of things that came into play:

Many of the real people involved in those works were dead by the time they were released, and whether publicity rights survive death is somewhat variable.
It's possible that the life rights to some of those people's stories were purchased or given to the writers/producers.
No one with standing to sue may have minded. ScarJo didn't *have* to sue if she didn't find the portrayal upsetting.

I'm not an expert by any means, but a lot of people seemed to think the lawsuit was totally ridiculous, but it doesn't seem particularly far fetched to me. Is it a winning case? No idea. Does it seem like something that should be dismissed out of hand? Not really.
posted by jacquilynne at 4:49 PM on June 19, 2013


Yeah, even though I linked to it, I am a little suspicious about the actual usefulness of the small penis rule. It seems more like you're just doubling-down on the defamation.
posted by ckape at 7:49 PM on June 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


"Yeah, even though I linked to it, I am a little suspicious about the actual usefulness of the small penis rule."

The usefulness of the penis rule is not so much about the size, but how you use it.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 8:08 PM on June 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


Golf clap, Ivan Fyodorovich.
posted by IAmBroom at 9:22 AM on June 20, 2013


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