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Marilyn Monroe Dispute Addressed in California Assembly


The California Assembly recently passed a bill reversing the decision made by two federal courts regarding the denial of payment to Marilyn Monroe's estate when using commercial images of the deceased actress. In both court cases, the issue surrounded Monroe's post-mortem rights to images as claimed by her estate, MM LLC.

The bill would allow for Monroe's estate to benefit from licensed images being used for commercial use. Originally, the courts had ruled that, because the statutory post-mortem publicity rights were nonexistent in New York and California at the time of Monroe's death in 1962, the actress would have had no way to pass the rights to the current owner of the estate. This first ruling prevented the CMG Worldwide archive and MM LLC from charging fees for the use of images of Monroe.

After rallying the support of the Screen Actors Guild, MM LLC and CMG put pressure on the Legislature to review the first ruling. The bill now must be passed in the California Senate and then signed by the governor before it can go into effect.