Can an actor’s image be used on merchandise and sold without his permission? According to a new court decision involving Office Space’s Todd Duffey, a minor character on 20th Century Fox Film’s Office Space, the answer is yes.
Duffey played “Chotchkie’s Waiter” on the film, and sued Fox over a licensing deal involving a piece of merchandise called the “Office Space Box of Flair,” consisting of a book and pins (which Amazon.com apparently is selling for around $25), and referring to a scene in which Jennifer Aniston’s character is told to wear at least 15 pieces of “flair.” Duffey’s face was put on two pieces of merchandise in the Box., according to the Hollywood Reporter.
Duffey, who had less than 10 lines in the film, had signed a Day Player Agreement with Cubicle, Inc., the film’s production company, which granted Cubicle, Inc. “all rights throughout the universe” to Duffey’s performance, including using his images for commercial purposes in connection with the film. Duffey argued that under the SAG-AFTRA collective bargaining agreement rights, specific merchandising provisions were required to convey merchandising rights.
Unfortunately, the Court did not buy it. The Court dismissed Duffey’s claim, concluding that the “terms admit of only one reasonable interpretation: that Duffey granted [the production company] the right to use images of his performance on Office Space merchandise.”
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