Academic journal article Defense Counsel Journal

Big Apple's Mayor Lacks "Right of Publicity"

Academic journal article Defense Counsel Journal

Big Apple's Mayor Lacks "Right of Publicity"

Article excerpt

Remarking "who would have dreamed that the mayor would object to more publicity," the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York has turned back an effort by New York City's Mayor Rudolph Giuliani to bar the use of his name in a satiric fashion in an advertisement on the city's buses. In fact, the case ended in shambles for Giuliani when the court granted the advertiser preliminary injunctive relief.

New York magazine bought space on the city's buses for an advertisement that contained the magazine's logo along with the caption, "Possibly the only good thing in New York Rudy hasn't taken credit for," the satiric point being that it poked fun at Giuliani for taking credit for all that is good in New York City. Giuliani didn't go for the joke, however. Through his orders, the ads were removed from the buses, and the Metropolitan Transit Authority, which operates the bus system, refused to continue the advertising contract. At the time, newspapers reported that Giuliani's objection was based on the use of his name to promote a commercial product.

This prompted the magazine to seek an injunction against the city and the MTA, grounded on the First Amendment, from refusing to display the ads, and from tortiously interfering with the advertising contract. The court granted a preliminary injunction on the First Amendment claim, but it refused to do so on the claim of intentional interference with the advertising contract because the magazine had not shown a likelihood of success on that claim.

The court held that the ads were commercial speech and entitled to the protections established by the U. …

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