OK to Use Lindsay Lohan’s Name in a Song

So holds Lohan v. Perez (E.D.N.Y. Feb. 21, 2013), with regard to Pitbull’s line,

So, I’m toptoein’, to keep flowin’, I got it locked up, like Lindsay Lohan.

The court reasons — quite correctly, I think — that such references are protected under the First Amendment against a “right of publicity” (i.e., misappropriation of another’s name or likeness) claim, and are not covered by New York’s right of publicity statute. For an amicus brief on this issue (in the context of Todd McFarlane’s use of hockey player Tony Twist’s name in the Spawn comic books), see this brief, which goes up to 11; the Missouri Supreme Court decision that the amicus brief was urging the Court to review is, fortunately, an outlier, and decisions such as Lohan v. Perez are the majority view.

Note that the matter might be somewhat different as to use of another’s name on the cover of a work or in the title of a song, see Parks v. LaFace Records (6th Cir. 2003), though even such uses are generally seen as entitled to broad First Amendment protections so long as there’s some “artistic connection” between the use of the name and the rest of the work.

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