Mark Steyn writes:
To secure Lisa-Marie’s inheritance, Priscilla set about the belated professionalization of her husband’s career. He was posthumously all shook up. She opened Graceland, so that fans could make their pilgrimage to his home and his grave, which now attracts more annual visitors than President Kennedy’s. Before Elvis, it was an established legal concept that “the dead have no rights.” Priscilla decided to reclaim exclusive rights to her late husband – his image, his identity. The Celebrity Rights Law, passed by Tennessee in 1983 and since taken up by other jurisdictions, effectively extends to Elvis’ estate the rights of a living person. Whether you believe he and Osama are working the night shift at the Dubuque Burger King is up to you. But, in the legal sense, Elvis is most definitely alive; it’s just that he’s changed his name to Graceland Enterprises Inc.
More on “celebrity rights”-type cases in a conversation with Bela Lugosi, Jr. and Gilbert Gottfried, now behind a paywall.
(See also “Lugosi vs. Universal Pictures.”)