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April 27, 2011

Fake Celebrities and the Law

Bangkok Post, Corporate Counsellor Column

It has become virtually impossible to watch television, listen to the radio, or flip through a magazine without encountering advertisements featuring celebrity endorsements. This form of marketing is pervasive because many advertisers believe that endorsements by celebrities can increase the perceived value of the products they are featuring. The celebrities in these commercials can enjoy protection of their work under copyright law as well as by contractual agreements signed between celebrities and advertisers. However, because of the compensation demanded by celebrities for such endorsements, it has become increasingly common to see or hear commercials featuring non-celebrities who impersonate certain well-recognized personal traits of celebrities such as mimicking the voice and accent of a celebrity or dressing up in a way that creates an immediate link to a celebrity. Although this would seem to be a legitimate advertising technique, there are legal implications to these actions.

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