A U.S. Court of Appeals has ruled to uphold the decision previously made by an Alabama judge, regarding the use of Rosa Parks’ name and likeness.
The Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self Development filed a lawsuit against the Target Corporation in order to prevent the mass retailer from using Rosa Parks’ likeness on Civil Rights themed merchandise. The products included posters, copies of a television movie, and several books, including Childhood of Famous Americans: Rosa Parks by Kathleen Kudlinshi. Kudlinshi’s book is a fictionalized account of Parks’ childhood that is meant to introduce younger readers to her work.
The court’s decision took Michigan law regarding one’s right to privacy into consideration, as the state was Rosa Parks’ last known place of residence at the time of her 2005 death.
“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,” said Judge Robin Rosenbaum. “Michigan law does not make discussion of these topics of public concern contingent on paying a fee.”
Rosenbaum also maintained that products related to the Civil Rights Movement are “a matter of legitimate and important public interest.”
Rosa Parks, whose likeness recently appeared on a campaign logo for presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton, was known to be protective of her image. Before her death, she settled a long-running suit against OutKast over a song titled “Rosa Parks.”