Rights of Publicity by Robert C. Cumbow

Posted on Posted in Past Events

What is the risk in my creating an artwork that
includes an image of a famous person?

Is it different if the person is not famous?

When do I need permission, and in what form?

These questions we hear frequently from artists invoke the comparatively little-known area of law called Rights of Publicity. In April 2012, as part of the WLA Legal Arts workshop series, Seattle attorney Robert C. Cumbow provided an overview of Rights of Publicity Law with a particular focus on its relevance to the work of visual artists such as painters, sculptors, and photographers.


Robert C. Cumbow

Robert C. Cumbow practices intellectual property and related commercial law at Graham & Dunn, where he focuses on trademark, copyright, Internet, media, publishing, and advertising issues for a wide range of commercial clients, with special focus on the alcoholic beverage industries. He also counsels artists and arts and entertainment organizations in intellectual property and media law issues. Bob is a three-time graduate of Seattle University (B.A. 1967 and M.A. 1969 in English, J.D. 1991), where he has taught courses in trademark, copyright, arts, and advertising law. He is a volunteer and two-time Board Member of Washington Lawyers for the Arts, and a member and past board member of the Washington State Bar Association’s Intellectual Property Section. He writes and speaks on law, language, and film.

Graham & Dunn PC
Suite 300, Pier 70
Alaskan Way

Seattle WA

(206) 340-9619


This post represents the views of the author identified above and does not necessarily reflect the views of Washington Lawyers for the Arts (“WLA”). WLA provides this content as a public resource of general information. WLA does not warrant that the content is or will be complete and accurate. It is not intended by WLA, nor should it be considered by you, to be a source of legal advice. You should not rely upon the information provided. Rather, you should seek legal counsel for consultation and advice.