No Holograms, Please! Robin Williams Trust Limits Use of His Likeness for 25 Years
And no CG-ing Robin Williams into commercials or other movies, either!
In a world where Tupac Shakur can be “resurrected” as a hologram to perform at a concert, or Audrey Hepburn can be inserted into a commercial, celebrities’ images can continue being exploited long after their deaths. Well, not if Robin Williams had anything to say about it.
In the Robin Williams Trust, which was released last Wednesday, Williams not only bequeathed his name, image, signature, and likeness to the Windfall Foundation (a charitable organization set up by Williams’ legal team), but he specifically restricts his publicity rights for 25 years after his death, keeping in mind that advances in technology may create certain uses that we can’t even anticipate right now.
According to The Hollywood Reporter:
The Trust restricts exploitation of Robin Williams’ right of publicity for 25 years after his death. That means, there won’t be any authorized advertisements featuring Williams until at least August 11, 2039. The provision also interferes with someone immediately doing, say, a hologram of a Robin Williams stand-up routine or digitally inserting him into a new film.
The Trust’s publicity rights provision is cutting edge in another way. If the Windfall Foundation is deemed not to qualify for a charitable deduction by the Internal Revenue Code, the Trust mandates that Robin Williams’ publicity rights be distributed to one or more charitable organizations with a similar purpose (Doctors Without Borders, AIDS, Make-a-Wish, etc.) which qualify for such charitable deductions.
Assigning publicity rights to a tax-advantaged charitable organization could limit his family’s tax liability. By doing what he did, Williams not only asserted a measure of control over posthumous exploitation, but he recognized that the value of a celebrity’s afterlife has gone up in recent years and made a step to mitigate the IRS’ interest in this.
This is as interesting as it is rare, as celebrities don’t generally do this. While they might restrict certain uses (like not allowing their likenesses to be used in conjunction with specific products), placing a time limit on usage is unheard of. However, it seems that for Williams, protecting his family and ensuring that his likeness would be used in support of causes he cared about came first.
A class act until the very end.
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