This Article examines the potential influence of psychoanalytic thought on the conception of publicity as a right distinct from privacy.
In the landmark case of Haelan Laboratories v. Topps Chewing Gum, Judge Jerome Frank articulated the modern right of publicity. The right is now most often seen to protect the strictly commercial value of one’s “persona”—the Latin-derived word originally meaning the mask of an actor. Among other criticisms, the right of publicity is frequently accused of lacking a coherent justification, permitting only economic redress against public harms to the persona, and stripping away individual identity by allowing for an alienable, proprietary right in one’s personality. Why might Judge Frank have been motivated to create a transferable intellectual property right in the monetary value of one’s persona distinct from the psychic harm to feelings, emotions, and dignity protected under the rubric of privacy?
Judge Frank was a leading figure in the American legal realist movement known for his unique and controversial “psychoanalysis of certain legal positions” through seminal works including Law and the Modern Mind, Why Not a Clinical Lawyer-School?, and Courts on Trial. His work drew heavily on the ideas of psychoanalytic thinkers, like Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung, to describe the distorting effects of infantile and unconscious wishes and fantasies on the decision-making process of legal actors and judges. For Judge Frank, the psychoanalytic interplay between dual parts of the personality supported the realist interpretation of lawmaking as a highly subjective and indeterminate activity. Indeed, though Judge Frank provided little rationale for articulating a personality right separate from privacy in Haelan, he had given a great deal of attention to the personality in his scholarly works.
In the spirit of Judge Frank’s psychoanalytic jurisprudence, this Article suggests that the right of publicity’s aim, apart from the personal right to privacy, may be understood through the psychoanalytic conception of the personality—one divided into public and private spheres. In the psychological sense, the term persona, or “false self,” refers to an individual’s social facade or front that reflects the role in life the individual is playing. That is, as a metaphor for the actor and their mask, the persona is used to indicate the public face of an individual, i.e., the image one presents to others for social or economic advantage, as contrasted with their feelings, emotions, and subjective interpretations of reality anchored in their private “true self.”
However, the law’s continued reliance on a dualistic metaphor of the personality—i.e., divided sharply into inner (private) and outer (public) subparts—appears misguided amidst a growing technology, internet, and social media-driven need for interwoven privacy and publicity rights. The Article thus concludes by examining intersubjective personality theory, which might provide a useful conceptual update in its view of the personality as contextual, relational, and dependent on social interaction—rather than divided sharply between the public and private.
This Article interprets the Supreme Court’s 2018 decision, Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, as a critical extension of Derrick Bell’s interest convergence thesis into the LGBTQ movement. Chiefly, Masterpiece reveals how the Court has been more willing to accommodate gay individuals who appear more assimilated and respectable—such as those who participated in the marriage equality decisions—than LGBTQ individuals who are less “mainstream” and whose exhibited queerness appear threatening to the heteronormative status quo. When assimilated same-sex couples sought marriage in Obergefell v. Hodges, their respectable personas facilitated the alignment between their interests to marry and the Court’s interest in affirming the primacy of marriage. Masterpiece, however, demonstrates that when the litigants’ sexual identities seem less assimilated and more destabilizing to the status quo, the Court becomes much less inclined to protect them from discrimination and, in turn, reacts by reinforcing its interest to preserve the status quo—one that relies on religious freedoms to fortify heteronormativity. To push this observation further, this Article explores how such failure of interest convergence in Masterpiece extends Derrick Bell’s thesis on involuntary racial sacrifice and fortuity into the LGBTQ context—arguing that essentially Masterpiece is an example of queer sacrifice. Thus, using the appositeness of critical race thinking, this Article regards the reversal in Masterpiece as part of the contours of interest convergence, queer sacrifice, and fortuity in the LGBTQ movement. Such observations ultimately prompt this Article to propose specific liberationist strategies that the movement ought to adopt in forging ahead.
This article presents a fictitious, utopian law school to challenge the assumption that legal education has met adequately the challenges of preparing law students for an evolving profession. By presenting the utopian ideal, the author highlights how adoption of best practices in learning and cognitive sciences could transform legal education from a highly criticized institution to a dynamic, self-transforming academy designed to meet the changing needs of students and the practicing bar.Librarian Jessica Almeida has co-authored an article on law librarianship in public service, "Hosting a Successful Transcription Party," appearing in the AALL Spectrum, March/April 2019, at 42. The work describes how New England law librarians and the Rhode Island State Archives used a transcription event to combine service and outreach to the community.