Posted May 15, 2020. To settle a pandemic-related financial crisis at UMass Dartmouth, law faculty are not receiving research compensation in summer 2020. I will be away from my desk, May 16 to August 15. Blog posts will be sparse, and I will not receive email. On the upside, summer 🌞! If you need to reach me, please send a message through the faculty assistants’ office (Ms. Cain and Ms. Rittenhouse). Stay thirsty.

Friday, April 12, 2019

Right of publicity protects personality, not Warren-Brandeis privacy, explains new work among four by UMass Law faculty

Four recent and compelling publications from my colleagues at UMass Law examine privacy and the right of publicity, LGBTQ civil rights, legal pedagogy, and law librarianship in public service.

Prof. Marlan
Professor Dustin Marlan has done the hard work of building the philosophical foundation for a personality-based right of publicity, disentangled from Warren-Brandeis privacy.  "Unmasking the Right of Publicity" is available on SSRN and forthcoming in the Hastings Law Journal.

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.
Prof. Ho
Professor Jeremiah Ho has authored a piece building on the Masterpiece Cakeshop case (U.S. 2018) and continuing his important work in LGBTQ civil rights.  "Queer Sacrifice in Masterpiece Cakeshop" is available on SSRN and forthcoming in the Yale Journal of Law and Feminism.  Here is the abstract:

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. 


Prof. Flanagan
Professor Rebecca Flanagan has authored an article in legal pedagogy in which she endeavors to bring some clarity to the process of preparing law students for this rapidly evolving market. Better by Design: Implementing Meaningful Change for the Next Generation of Law Students was published at 71 Me. L. Rev. 103 (2019).  Here is the abstract:

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.

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