Ali v. Playgirl, Inc.

447 F. Supp. 723 (1978)

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Ali v. Playgirl, Inc.

United States District Court for the Southern District of New York
447 F. Supp. 723 (1978)

Facts

Playgirl, Inc. (defendant) published a monthly magazine called Playgirl Magazine, which was distributed by Independent News Company (Independent) (defendant). The February 1978 issue of Playgirl Magazine contained a portrait drawing by Tony Yamada (defendant) of a full-frontal nude Black male in a boxing ring who had the same facial features and hairstyle as Muhammad Ali (plaintiff), the famous heavyweight boxing champion. The drawing accompanied a fictional story about Ali. Ali, who had developed a valuable reputation and likeness over the course of his career, had not consented to the use of his likeness. Ali sued Playgirl, Independent, and Yamada for violating the New York statutory right of publicity. Playgirl, Independent, and Yamada argued that by seeking publicity as a famous athlete, Ali did not have the right of publicity. Ali moved for a preliminary injunction ordering Playgirl and Independent to cease distribution of and withdraw from publication the February 1978 issue of Playgirl Magazine, to recover all copies for sale, and to surrender any printing plates or devices used to reproduce the portrait drawing.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Gagliardi, J.)

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