The right of publicity is of the common law, so there are not many bright line rules, instead the general concept governs. A person has ownership of their own voice, image, and likeness. Some states grant broader publicity rights, but these three concepts tend to be consistent throughout the country.
In essence, the identification of the right of publicity allows for individuals to sell more than their physical or mental labor (employment or services) and their ideas (intellectual property). A person can now lend their face to advertising campaigns, movies, games, and more. A person has the ability to use their voice to gain income. This right of publicity is the foundation for several industries.
This right can also be used proactively. For example, if an image of a person is used, under the right of publicity damages could be sought. Just this year, a case was brought arguing a person’s face, in a specific context, was worth over $2 billion. Depending on the state, a case could be brought not just for damages, but also demanding an infringing party stop using a person’s image or likeness.
With the rise of digital cameras and the ease of putting such images on the internet, there is the potential for the right of publicity to be an important and growing area of law in the coming years.