Duhaime's Law Dictionary

Publicity Definition:

The use of an individual's name, image or reputation to promote products or services.

Related Terms: Privacy, Personal Information

In her trestise on topic, Gillian Black defines publicity as:

"... The practice of using an individual's name, image and reputation to promote products or to provide media coverage, often in gossip magazines and tabloid press ... its key trait being the exploitation, by waiver or license, a personal information and identity (ie. persona) which could otherwise be kept private, at the option of individual.

"(T)he fundamental (characteristics) of a publicly right are .... the identity of the holder of the right, the inalienability of the right, and the monopoly status of the right."

The legal concept of publicity, and the legal rights associated with it, are fundamentally intertwined with the related concept of privacy, the one often described as the "other side of the coin" of the other; publicity rights even described as the "underbelly" of privacy.

Publicity rights are often raised in judicial proceedings involving celebrities but these rights are not exclusive to those with celebrity status. McCarthy wrote:

"Does the right of publicity cover only celebrities? The answer is clearly no. The right of publicity is an inherent right of identity possessed by everyone at birth. While the commercial value of a celebrity's identity is understandably greater than that of a non-celebrity, this does not mean that only celebrities have a right of publicity."


  • Black, Gillian, Publicity Rights and Image (Oxford: Hart Publishing, 2011).
  • McCarthy, J. T., Public Personas and Private Property: The Commercialization of Human Identity, 79 TMR 681 at 688 (1989)

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