As Mark Twain apocryphally observed, “History doesn’t repeat itself, but it often rhymes.” The history of the right of publicity reflects a common intellectual property rhyme. Much like copyright, the right of publicity is an incidental intellectual property right that emerged out of regulation. Over time, the property right gradually detached itself from the regulation and evolved into an independent legal doctrine.

Copyright emerged from the efforts of the Stationers’ Company to preserve its members’ monopoly on the publication of works of authorship. Similarly, it can be argued the right of publicity emerged from the efforts of bubblegum companies to preserve their monopoly on the publication of baseball cards. In both situations, those efforts to preserve a monopoly resulted in the incidental creation of an intellectual property right.

Document Type


Publication Date

Winter 2017

Notes/Citation Information

Brian L. Frye, Incidental Intellectual Property, 33 Ent. & Sports Law. 24 (2017).