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Hoffman v. Capital Cities/ABC, Inc.

Brands, Celebrities, Social, & Right of Publicity

Why it Matters:

This case addresses the thin line between editorial and advertising content.

Year: 2001

Summary:

žLos Angeles Magazine created a photo spread with screen captures from famous movies.  žThe magazine digitally edited the images so it appeared that the celebrities were wearing modern designer clothing. For example, Dustin Hoffman’s character in “Tootsie” was dressed in a Richard Tyler gown and Ralph Lauren heels.

Results:

žžThe District Court judge ruled in Mr. Hoffman’s favor, finding that the magazine had “crossed over the line between editorial content and advertising.” The defendant appealed.
žThe U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit unanimously reversed the previous decision.
“Viewed in context, the article as a whole is a combination of fashion photography, humor, and visual and verbal editorial comment on classic films and famous actors. Any commercial aspects are ‘inextricably entwined’ with expressive elements, and so they cannot be separated out ‘from the…

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