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Target Corporation wins lawsuit over ownership of name and image of Rosa Parks

Rosa Parks booking photo in Montgomery, Alabama (Image Source: Historical Image)

Rosa Parks booking photo in Montgomery, Alabama (Image Source: Historical Image)

The name of Rosa Parks is one that is known internationally and now the Target Corporation is making money off of it.. Parks famously was arrested for refusing to give up her bus seat to a White man in segregated Montgomery, Alabama.  This act of civil disobedience resulted in the Montgomery Bus Boycott, the rise of Dr. Martin L. King Jr.  and the start of the Civil Rights movement.There is no doubt that Rosa Parks is a historical figure and this is why Target Corporation launched a series of books, movies and plaques depicting her life.

The non-profit group the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self Developmentwhich owns the image and likeness of Rosa Parks, objected to Target’s actions and filed a right of publicity lawsuit.  The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit issued a 15 page opinion that has ruled against the non-profit. At issue is a Michigan law that deals with the right of publicity versus the right of privacy. Since Parks lived in Michigan at the time of her death in 2005, the Michigan law applies.

In its ruling the court decided that Parks and the Civil Rights movement were “a matter of legitimate and important public interest.” Judge Robin Rosenbaum wrote for the court stating that Targets merchandise were “All bona fide works of nonfiction discussing Parks and her role… The institute has not articulated any argument as to why Michigan’s qualified privilege for matters of public concern would not apply to these works, in light of the conspicuous historical importance of Rosa Parks. Nor can we conceive of any. Michigan law does not make discussion of these topics of public concern contingent on paying a fee.” Judge Rosenbaum wrote for a panel that included Judge Julie Carnes and Senior Judge Joel Dubina.

The court determined that the First Amendment shields the Target Corporation against a legal action by the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self Development. This upheld a previous ruling by the US District Court for the Middle District of Alabama. Target will not have to pay the non-profit institute any royalty fees for the use of the image of Rosa Parks.

 

 



15 Comments

  1. J. M. on January 6, 2016 at 6:26 pm

    WHAT ACTIONS? Before the internet, journalists were thorough and accurate..now its bang out some letters and who cares what comes out.

    • NorthLoopian on January 7, 2016 at 11:00 am

      FTA: “… Target Corporation launched a series of books, movies and plaques depicting her life.”

  2. DavidRavenMoon on January 9, 2016 at 11:18 am

    Who wrote this article? Please go through and proofread before posting!

  3. T. Kelly on January 26, 2016 at 12:44 pm

    HOW THE %$#@ DOES ‘WHITE FOLKS’ OWN HER NAME AND IMAGE? WTH IS WRONG WITH WHITE PEOPLE? STILL MAKING MONEY OFF OF OUR PEOPLE EVEN OUR ANSCESTORS! DAMN YOU PEOPLE, DAMN ALL OF YOU TO HELL! YEAH I SAID SO FU%$#@ WHAT! YES I’M PISSED OFF! I CAN’T WAIT FOR THE DAY TO COME THAT OUR GOD HAS PROMISED. THE DAY YOU PEOPLE WILL FACE RETRIBUTION!

    • Amaziah Yah Yisrael on January 26, 2016 at 9:31 pm

      Ecclesiastes 7:7
      Oppression maketh A wise man mad…….

      I’m angry also bro. But (our God) The God of Israel will have vengeance for us. Don’t worry!

      • Louis Christopher on January 27, 2016 at 7:54 am

        Smh. Really dude. How do you read an article like this and still believe that God of Isreal Dogma?!

    • La Belle Reine Lísa on January 27, 2016 at 12:52 pm

      You right this is very disappointing

    • chesler on January 28, 2016 at 8:35 pm

      That’s not what the ruling said. Target may sell stuff using the name of R___ P____ without paying royalties. Just like my unauthorized biography of Elvis Presley, I can write all about him, naming his name.
      The article notes this was decided under Michigan law. California is particularly protective of rights to one’s name and likeness — it’s possible that under California law the balancing test would have come out differently.
      But in any case Target doesn’t own any rights to R___ P____’ name, likeness or person. If someone else wants to tell her story, Target doesn’t get royalties.

      • Es_my_D on January 29, 2016 at 12:25 am

        Exactly what I was thinking

  4. Slynn571 on January 26, 2016 at 10:18 pm

    Get the word out DO NOT BUY ROSA PARK stuff from Target! Just ridiculous!

  5. Estella Cohen on January 27, 2016 at 1:25 am

    This is why Black people stay angry and we are constantly viewed as victims……because we often are.

  6. Gwendolyn F. Cooksey on January 28, 2016 at 6:11 pm

    So, white folks are still in the business of owning black folks.

  7. Rex Africanus 2.0 on January 29, 2016 at 2:21 pm

    Don’t worry, this will be appealed all the way to the Supreme Court… as well it should!

  8. XO on February 11, 2016 at 12:20 pm

    Exploitation at its best. The same company that invests in prisons, which are housed primarily by blacks so in their eyes they can and will always turn a profit, is using an honorable black woman to make money off of. I cant with these large corporations. WE MUST BUY BLACK!!

  9. hernandayoleary2 on February 28, 2016 at 8:14 pm

    So does that mean you can steal anyone’s image in michigan