Access practice tools, as well as industry leading news, customizable alerts, dockets, and primary content, including a comprehensive collection of case law, dockets, and regulations. Leverage...
Oct. 5 — Based-on-a-true-story film “The Wolf of Wall Street” did not violate the personality rights of a real-life former associate of convicted swindler Jordan Belfort under New York law, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York ruled Sept. 30 (Greene v. Paramount Pictures Corp., E.D.N.Y., No. 2:14-cv-01044-JS-SIL, 9/30/15).
The 2013 Paramount Pictures film starring Leonardo DiCaprio was based on the criminal exploits of Belfort, which he wrote about in a 2007 memoir.
Andrew “Wigwam” Greene, who worked with Belfort from 1993 to 1996, alleged that the appearance of a character in the film—Nicky “Rugrat” Koskoff as portrayed by actor P.J. Byrne—violated his personality rights under N.Y. Civ. Rights Law §§50-51.
In some states this type of right is often called a “right of publicity,” but in New York, it is part of the state's privacy rights statute.
Greene had argued that certain traits of the Koskoff character that matched up with his own traits and background made the character an unauthorized commercial misappropriation of his identity.
For example, in the film, Koskoff was mocked for his habit of wearing a bad toupee, just as Greene said he had been in real life.
However, the court ruled that the character's “physical resemblance to him and their toupees, viewed in conjunction with their similar backstories and relative positions” at Belfort's company, were not enough to trigger a claim.
“Merely suggesting certain characteristics of the plaintiff, without literally using his or her name, portrait, or picture, is not actionable under the statute,” the court said, quoting from Allen v. Nat'l Video, Inc., 610 F. Supp. 612 (S.D.N.Y. 1985).
Thus, the court said, New York state courts had not allowed such claims “even if the depiction at issue evokes some characteristics of the person or the person is identifiable by reference to external sources.”
The court thus granted Paramount's motion to dismiss the privacy law claim. The court's ruling was issued by Judge Joanna Seybert.
Greene was represented by the Law Office of Aaron M. Goldsmith P.C., New York. Paramount Pictures was represented by Leopold, Petrich & Smith P.C., Los Angeles.
Greene v. Paramount Pictures Corp.
Feb. 18, 2014
All Bloomberg BNA treatises are available on standing order, which ensures you will always receive the most current edition of the book or supplement of the title you have ordered from Bloomberg BNA’s book division. As soon as a new supplement or edition is published (usually annually) for a title you’ve previously purchased and requested to be placed on standing order, we’ll ship it to you to review for 30 days without any obligation. During this period, you can either (a) honor the invoice and receive a 5% discount (in addition to any other discounts you may qualify for) off the then-current price of the update, plus shipping and handling or (b) return the book(s), in which case, your invoice will be cancelled upon receipt of the book(s). Call us for a prepaid UPS label for your return. It’s as simple and easy as that. Most importantly, standing orders mean you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you’re relying on. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.960.1220 or by sending an email to email@example.com.
Put me on standing order at a 5% discount off list price of all future updates, in addition to any other discounts I may quality for. (Returnable within 30 days.)
Notify me when updates are available (No standing order will be created).
This Bloomberg BNA report is available on standing order, which ensures you will all receive the latest edition. This report is updated annually and we will send you the latest edition once it has been published. By signing up for standing order you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you need. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.372.1033, option 5, or by sending us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Put me on standing order
Notify me when new releases are available (no standing order will be created)