Tupac Hologram Copyright and Intellectual Property Issues

April 19, 2012 in Copyright by

Most of you have probably heard about the Tupac hologram at the Coachella Music Festival in California over the weekend. If you haven’t…read the news, there was a Tupac hologram at the Coachella Music Festival over the weekend. Now that’s out of the way, why is this important? First, it was a great post-mortem performance along side Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg which can be seen here.

Tupac hologram copyright

Second, in addition to the incredible technical feat of the hologram, which was a collaboration pushed by Dr. Dre and done by Digital Domain Productions and AV Concepts, Pandora’s box blew up with speculation of resurrecting great performers like Jim Morrison and Michael Jackson for possible tours.

So what does this mean? IP issues run amok. Where do we begin? Essentially it can be broken down into copyright law and right of publicity. Namely, the creators of the hologram would need to obtain a license of the music that was performed. Most likely AV Concepts obtained the rights from ASCAP for that, nothing too unusual there. However, the creation of the hologram, which we believe was an original recreation of Tupac’s movement (rather than just a copy of footage from one of Tupac’s prior videos) would be a copyright owned by AV Concepts or whomever created the hologram.

But the biggest question is the right of publicity which would be the threshold question. Right of publicity laws are state laws, and in California Cal. Civ. Code Section 3344 states:

“Any person who knowingly uses another’s name, voice, signature, photograph, or likeness, in any manner, on or in products, merchandise, or goods, or for purposes of advertising or selling, or soliciting purchases of, products, merchandise, goods or services, without such person’s prior consent…shall be liable for any damages sustained by the person or persons injured as a result thereof.”

Therefore, Dr. Dre and AV Concepts had to get consent from the executors of Tupac’s estate which is controlled by Afeni Shakur, Tupac’s mother who was apparently thrilled with the end result. So although obtaining consent to a celebrity’s likeness to be used with products is nothing new; posthumous hologram acts for live performances places a new intellectual property spin the likes of which we’ll probably see more of. Now if we can just get Dr. Dre to bury the hatchet and get Eazy-E to come back, how epic would that make up be?