Name, Image, and Likeness (NIL) Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
What is Name, Image, and Likeness?
Name, Image, and Likeness (commonly referred to as “NIL”), make up the “rights of publicity.” Rights of publicity allow individuals to control the commercial use of their identity, including their name, image, and likeness.
What rights do creators, athletes, and other influencers have over their name, image, and likeness?
Put simply, NIL rights allow individuals to enjoy (1) the exclusive right to license the use of their identity for commercial promotion, and (2) the right to prevent the unauthorized commercial use of their name, image, likeness, or other recognizable aspects of their persona.
Why am I just now hearing about NIL?
Until recently, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (“NCAA”), the organization that regulates student athletes, did not allow student athletes to profit off their NIL. This meant, for example, that a star athlete could not profit from the sale of her own jersey or from signing autographs. In June 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court held that the NCAA could no longer limit student athletes from using—and profiting from—their own NIL. Now, because of this landmark decision, the NCAA allows all NCAA student athletes to be compensated for their NIL.
Why should I worry about my NIL rights?
The NIL legal and regulatory landscape is complicated. Applicable laws differ from state-to-state, and universities across the country are taking different approaches to NIL issues following the Supreme Court’s June 2020 decision. All parties—student athletes, influencers, content creators, and potential licensing partners—face different questions. There is no one-size-fits-all NIL template, and interested parties would be well served by seeking legal counsel.
What if I am not a student-athlete?
You may still have NIL rights, and were probably never limited by the former NCAA regulations. Assuming you are not otherwise limited by a contract, your employer, or some other governing body, you may enjoy the benefits of your NIL.
What if I am a high school athlete?
Tread carefully. In many states, high school athletes who want to participate in college sports cannot accept endorsement deals if they want to maintain their college eligibility. Only some states, including California, allow high school athletes to profit from their NIL while maintaining their college eligibility.
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