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Billy Two Rivers v Van Morrison - not your usual battle

Written by Jessie Hamill-Stewart on 15 August 2017

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Former professional wrestler Billy Two Rivers is suing musician Van Morrison for using a photo of him, during a wrestling match, on his album cover without Rivers’ permission. This classic case is an infringement of Rivers’ Right of Publicity, according to New York State’s Statutory Right to Publicity and New York Civil Rights law 50 and 51.

The album, named Roll with the Punches is set for release September 22nd 2017. The black and white photo features Rivers mid-battle, and is used on the album cover to promote Morrison’s tour and sale of the album online and in store. However, Billy Two Rivers claims he has not even been contacted to give authorisation for Morrison to use the photo.

This will be a legally straightforward case for Rivers, so long as he has evidence for the allegation. It is then unauthorised use of likeness for commercial purposes.

In this typical case, Rivers makes an unlikely victim but the case’s nature suggests simplicity.

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