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Facenda v. N.F.L. Films, Inc.

United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
542 F.3d 1007 (2008)


Facts

John Facenda was a well-known broadcaster who provided narration for National Football League Films, Inc. (NFL Films) (defendant). NFL Films owned the copyrights to recordings of Facenda’s voice, which had been used in NFL Films’s videos. Before his death in 1984, Facenda signed a release contract giving NFL Films perpetual use of Facenda’s voice recordings, “provided, however, such use does not constitute an endorsement of any product or service.” In 2005, NFL Films used Facenda’s voice recordings in a promotional video for a video game. The executor of Facenda’s estate (plaintiff) sued, arguing that NFL Films’s use of Facenda’s voice in the promotional video violated Facenda’s right of publicity. NFL Films argued that it owned the copyrights to Facenda’s voice recordings and that the copyright included the right to create derivative works based on those recordings. The district court granted summary judgment to Facenda’s estate. NFL Films appealed, arguing that the estate’s right-of-publicity claim was preempted by NFL Films’s right to make derivative works under federal copyright law.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Ambro, J.)

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  • A "yes" or "no" answer to the question framed in the issue section;
  • A summary of the majority or plurality opinion, using the CREAC method; and
  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

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