A proposed House Bill in Michigan that deals with the rights of an individual to control the commercial use of his or her “name, likeness or persona,” has drawn fire because of, among other things, an exemption for videogames.
HB5964 (full bill text) was introduced earlier this year on March 18, but has yet to be voted on since being referred to House Judiciary Committee that same month. Violators of the bill would be “liable for actual damages attributable to the unauthorized use of one or more of the personality’s attributes, including profits attributable to the unauthorized use not taken into account in computing actual damages, or $1,000, whichever was greater. “
The long list of exemptions in the bill’s text states that consent would not be required “for the use of one or more of personality’s attributes in any of the following works in any medium now known or hereafter used or devised, regardless of length or format.” The list included videogames, original works of art and various forms of media, such as magazines, newspapers or sports broadcasts.
These provisions caused Okalahoma City Thunder guard Morris Peterson and a variety of other athletes to complain to a state House committee that they opposed the bill, since “the measure would make it too easy for videogame and souvenir manufacturers to use their likenesses without athletes' permission.”