Digital Resurrections Necessitate Federal Post-Mortem Publicity Rights

Digital Resurrections Necessitate Federal Post-Mortem Publicity RightsMeaghan FonteinIn the 1966 horror film Island of Terror, actor Peter Cushing’s character faced a predicament of dealing with computer-borne life forms resembling virtual humans. Fast-forward: 22 years after his death and 50 years after Island of Terror, Peter Cushing himself is resurrected as a virtual human to reprise his Grand Moff Tarkin character in Star Wars: Rogue One. While Cushing’s digital resurrection was seen as brilliant innovation by some, the performance upset many others-including his heir-who felt emotionally damaged from seeing a deceased person’s image repurposed for profit. Moral dilemmas, however, are merely secondary to the true threat of harm posed by digital resurrections: misappropriation for commercial gain. By definition, to misappropriate means “to put to the wrong use.” Reaching beyond the deceased artist’s control to digitally resurrect their…

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