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Copyright (c) 2004 DePaul University
 DePaul Journal of Sports Law & Contemporary Problems

ARTICLE: No Control Over their Rights of Publicity: College Athletes Left Sitting the Bench

Spring, 2004

DePaul Journal of Sports Law & Contemporary Problems

2 DePaul J. Sports L. Contemp. Probs. 70


Kristine Mueller*



The right of publicity is the right of every person to control the commercial use of his or her identity. 1 There are also personal interests protected by this right. 2 The protection is often said to apply to an individual's persona. A persona encompasses things such as a person's likeness, nickname 3 , performing style or mannerisms 5 An individual's right of publicity is governed by either common law or by state statutes, as no federal right of publicity exists.

The right of publicity has been applied in cases involving athletes, but the application of this right for college athletes has yet to be addressed in a serious manner by the judicial system. There is little case law on the issue in spite of the serious violations of college athletes' publicity rights. Student-athletes have virtually no control over the commercial use of their identities. They cannot, themselves, enter into agreements for endorsements or the like, but the universities they play for are able to enter into endorsement agreements and other contracts for the commercial uses of the players' identities. Ultimately, the student-athletes sign over their rights of publicity, in a sense, to the universities.

Under the regulations of the National Collegiate Athletic Association ("NCAA"), athletes are not allowed to receive compensation for the commercial use of their personas and likenesses. These regulations result in the exploitation of the likenesses of college athletes in areas such as ...
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