Brad and Angelina Vertically Integrate
Having apparently successfully horizontally-integrated before, Brad and Angelina are now embracing the latest celebrity trend: vertical integration. As everyone knows, Brad and Angelina just had twins. As Chadwick Matlin reported for Slate Friday, celeb baby pics are worth a fortune. Our celebrities face a choice: be chased mercilessly—and with real risk—by the paparazzi or instead vertically integrate and go into the baby pic biz themselves. Increasingly they are doing the latter.
As I emphasize in my paper on Fair Use v. Fair Access, authors have initial monopoly control over their works and a smart copyright system needs to take that into account. We see the same access phenomenon at work in the baby pictures: access matters and the celebrities have figured out that going out in public with the new baby gives up that access. If the celebrities sell access, they kill off the market for the “first” pictures. That is a twofer: they collect a nice check—often for charity—plus the paparazzi lose out.
Note that a broader conception of privacy, as Warren and Brandeis pushed for in their 1890 article on The Right to Privacy, might eliminate the need for celebs to vertically integrate. The July 24th Mosley case in the UK works through the tensions between privacy rights and the freedom of expression under the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and comes out in favor privacy and a £60,000 penalty against the News of the World, though the home page suggests that it is still business as usual (and see their views of the decision here).