I believe that I read somewhere that Elvis and many other dead celebrities still have agents which interested me. Does this stretch to other dead historical figures? If I wanted to contact the official office of Lord Nelson, who would I write to? Does Hitler have an official online presence? How do I get in touch with Edgar Rice Burroughs? Are these people represented anywhere?
Edgar Rice Burroughs is represented by ERB Inc. They have a web site at http://www.tarzan.org/about_erb_inc.html which lists the following contact info:
Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc.
P.O. Box 570277
Tarzana, CA 91357-0277
When Hitler died, his nephew refused his estate. Hitler’s estate (whose most valuable asset at that time was the royalties from Mein Kampf) went to the state of Bavaria, who refuse to allow the book to be published. The copyright on it has since expired. The rights to Hitler’s images and such could still be claimed by Hitler’s closest living relatives, but they have all refused any royalties. The state of Bavaria donates all royalties received to charity.
After Lord Nelson’s death, Lady Hamilton lived a very lavish lifestyle that burned through his money and put herself in debt. A group of trustees attempted to manage his estate but much of it had to be sold off. If there is any current representation of his estate I couldn’t find it in my (admittedly quick) google search.
BTW, according to Forbes, Elvis earned $55 million last year, the same amount as Justin Bieber. Not bad for a dead guy.
CBS show 60 Minutes had a story on an agency that specialized in dead celebrities and athletes.
don’t recall but it was years ago.
and here it is… http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=7228500n
Many dead celebrities have heir(s) who get rights to intellectual property. If the property is sufficiently valuable then it makes sense to ahv someone manage that. There’s a list somewhere of the top dead moneymakers and Elvis is near the top of that list. (IIRC, Michael Jackson is the winner now).
I don’t think there’s any money for Abraham Lincoln, for example - copyrights are long gone, and most of his activity was government and so public domain anyway. I.e. Kennedy’s or FDR’s inauguration address is a government function, and so I imagine public property; but “I Have a Dream” was a speech written and presented by MLK for a non-government event and so copyright. Apparently his heir have been actively pursuing anyone for royalties.
The question is how deep it goes? In a way, there’s the public event and news function, so the paparazzi do not need permission and do not pay royalties for snapping celebrities doing newsworthy things like crossing the street. However, I don’t know what the situation is for, say, a movie like “The Aviator”. Obviously if someone is playing Catherine Hepburn, her likeness is not being used (Unless they show some real historical photos). Same for Howard Hughes - showing diCaprio with slicked back hair is not impinging on a celebrity’s image. As they are valid historical figures, I suppose you can use their names…