Death of Prince sparks bill to clarify artists’ rights

Published 10:26 am Monday, May 9, 2016

ST. PAUL — In the wake of Prince’s death, legislative committees plan hearings on a bill to clarify the rights of artists to control the commercial use of their names, likenesses and images — and extend those protections to an artist’s heirs.

The legislation is promoted by the law firm that represents Bremer Trust, the special administrator of Prince’s estate. Joel Leviton of Stinson Leonard Street says the sponsors are Rep. Joe Hoppe and Sen. Bobby Joe Champion.

Leviton says hearings are set for Tuesday and Wednesday. With the session ending in two weeks, he says it’s urgent to act. He says precedents back up the idea that artists can control their names, images and likenesses, but it’s not written into statutes. And Minnesota courts have not said if those rights are inheritable.

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