The cover image for Van Morrison's newest album, 'Roll With The Punches', features an image of Billy Two Rivers (the Image), a Canadian born ex-professional wrestler. In addition to appearances in numerous television programmes and films, Billy Two Rivers was also a leader of the Mohawk nation on the Kahnawake reservation, has featured in songs and poems, and even had a race horse named after him.
The Image is a black and white photo featuring the Two Rivers in the middle of a wrestling move, and has also been used to promote Van Morrison's upcoming tour. Two Rivers claims he has not been contacted by Van Morrison's representatives requesting permission relating to the use of the Image. According to 1709 Blog, Two Rivers is claiming the use of the Image infringes his right of publicity under New York Civil Rights Law as well as constituting false endorsement under the Trademark Act.
The 1709 blog highlighted s50 of New York Civil Rights Law which states it is a misdemeanor for "[a] person, firm or corporation [to use] for advertising purposes, or for the purposes of trade, the name, portrait or picture of any living person without having first obtained the written consent of such person, or if a minor of his or her parent or guardian...", and appeared to comment that if Two Rivers can establish the facts claimed in the law suit he has filed it may be easy to establish liability.
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