Recently, Governor John Lynch of New Hampshire vetoed a bill (S.B. 175) that would have allowed an individual’s heirs to control the commercial use of the individual’s identity for 70 years following death. Not all states recognize the “right of publicity” — the right for an individual to control his or her commercial likeness — and the degree and length of protection varies greatly in the states that do recognize such a right.
The son of J.D. Salinger, the famously reclusive author of The Catcher in the Rye who resided in New Hampshire during much of his lifetime, promoted the bill’s passage. He has argued that the bill is necessary to continue to protect the author’s privacy and expressed hope that the legislature will override the governor’s veto. Governor Lynch said in a statement that the bill was overbroad because it “fails to distinguish clearly between commercial versus journalistic or expressive uses of identity.” He noted that the bill would substantially broaden the scope of the right of publicity as currently recognized in New Hampshire’s common law.