“Don’t Just Stand There. Strike a Pose. Vogue,” is a famous line from one of Madonna’s most famous songs. The song was her tribute to old fashion magazines and the celebrities that they made famous. To emphasize her point, the singer mentioned several celebrities from the forties and fifties. However, you cannot just use someone else’s name for commercial purposes. You have to have the right to do so. Even after the celebrity has passed away, you still need to get permission from the celebrity’s estate. That is causing Madonna some issues.
Most of the celebrities mentioned in the song use the same company for handling their publicity rights, CMG. However, Marlon Brando’s estate has its own company to handle his rights, Brando Enterprises. When Madonna wants to perform her song publicly, she needs to get everyone’s permission and pay licensing fees. CMG was handling the negotiations with Brando’s estate. However, Brando’s estate is demanding more money than the other celebrities’ estates. As a result, CMG has sued Brando’s estate alleging breach of contract.
Ultimately, this case will be an interesting footnote in estate law, if it is remembered at all. However, it should give you an indication that estate planning is not just about your physical property. You also need to plan for your intellectual property.
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