New York Court Dismisses Privacy Claim Against Rapper: Lindsay Lohan v Pitbull

Actress Lindsay Lohan’s lawsuit against rapper Pitbull has been dismissed by a New York court following a motion by the rapper’s attorneys to dismiss the complaint.

Lohan commenced her action against Pitbull in 2011 after her name was used in his hit song “Give Me Everything” in the line: “So, I’m tiptoein’, to keep flowin’ / I got it locked up like Lindsay Lohan.” The actress claimed that the use of her name, characterisation, and personality for advertising purposes and for purposes of trade and commercial benefit without consent violated New York Civil Rights Law (Sections 50 and 51). Lohan sought monetary and injunctive relief for unjust enrichment and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

Pitbull, whose real name is Armando Christian Perez, released Give Me Everything in March 2011. The song also features on the album entitled Planet Pit. The rapper’s attorneys filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit for failure to state a claim, together with a separate motion seeking sanctions against Lohan and her counsel for bringing frivolous claims and for plagiarism.

Sections 50 and 51 provide a limited statutory right to privacy, making it a misdemeanour for a person 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.

The Supreme Court made clear in Ward v Rock Against Racism that “music, as a form of expression and communication, is protected under the First Amendment.” In dismissing Lohan’s claim, District Judge Hurley noted that because the song was a protected work of art under the First Amendment, the use of Lohan’s name in the lyric does not violate New York Civil Rights Law.

The court concluded that the use of Lohan’s name in the lyrics, once in 104 lines of the song, was an “isolated reference of fleeting and incidental nature which the Civil Rights law does not find offensive.”

Bulletins are for general guidance only. Legal advice should be sought before taking action in relation to specific matters. Where reference is made to Court decisions facts referred to are those reported as found by the Court. Please note that past bulletins included in the Archive have not been updated by any subsequent changes in statute or case law.