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9th Circ. Ruling Generates Copyright Preemption Confusion

April 20, 2017, Law360

Earlier this month, in Maloney v. T3Media Inc.,[1] the Ninth Circuit held that former college athletes could not assert a right of publicity to prevent the NCAA and its licensee, T3Media, from distributing images of the players. The court ruled that the players’ right of publicity was preempted by Section 301 of the Copyright Act because photographs of the college athletes were within the “subject matter” of copyright. While the outcome of the case may be justifiable on the facts, the decision raises more questions than it answers, further muddying the already difficult terrain of copyright preemption under Section 301.

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