DuetsBlog Collaborations in Creativity & the Law

Claim Is Gone With The Wind At Death

Posted in Articles, Law Suits, Loss of Rights, Mixed Bag of Nuts, Television

Two time academy award winner Olivia de Havilland seeks an expedited trial for the lawsuit involving her right of publicity.  Olivia de Havilland, DBE v. FX Networks, et al, BC667011 (Superior Ct. Calif., June 30, 2017). The urgency is needed because Ms. de Havilland’s statutory right of publicity ceases at her death.  She is currently 101.

You may recall that Ms. de Havilland starred as the sweet Melanie Hamilton Wilkes who thought of Scarlett as a sister in my favorite movie the epic “Gone with the Wind.”  The movie received 10 Academy Awards.  It is an American classic.

Ms. de Havilland is suing FX and others involved with her depiction in the series “Feud: Bette and Joan” which depicts the rivalry between Bette Davis and Joan Crawford.   Ms. de Havilland was a friend of Bette Davis.  She claims that the series painted her in a false light, and violated both her statutory (Cal Civ. Code 3344) and common law right of publicity and unjustly enriched the FX defendants.

The right of publicity involves the right of an individual to control and profit from the commercial use of his or her name, image, likeness, or other unequivocal aspects of one’s identity.

We have blogged about the right of publicity before, here.

The FX defendants are defending against the allegations by invoking the anti-SLAPP Statute in California that protects against threats to the First Amendment in matters of public interest among other defenses.

Ms. de Havilland brought a motion for an expedited trial based on her “unusually advanced age” of 101.  She also asserted that she was susceptible to disease due to her advanced age and that she has recurring health issues.

As an aside, there is a separate statute for the right of publicity for the deceased at Cal. Civil Code 3344.1 in the unfortunate circumstance of Ms. de Havilland dying before resolution of the suit.

Not surprisingly, the Judge granted the motion for an expedited trial stating “I can’t imagine how one could not do that when the plaintiff is 101 years old.”  This will be an interesting trial to follow.