Lawsuit Concerning Bob Dylan's ''Hurricane'' song
In Valentine v. C.B.S., Inc., 698 F.2d 430 (11th Cir. 1983), at issue was a song written by Bob Dylan and Jacques Levy depicting the murder trial of prizefighter Rubin "Hurricane" Carter.
The plaintiff, a witness in the murder trial, brought an action alleging a violation of section 540.08 because the song falsely implied that she participated in a conspiracy to unjustly convict Carter. Id. at 431.
The Eleventh Circuit held that the plaintiff's claim was not actionable under section 540.08.
Citing Loft, the court reasoned that the "use is actionable under the statute because of the way the defendants associate the individual's name or personality with something else." Id. at 433.
The Court stated:
The trial court properly held that, as a matter of law, the ballad "Hurricane" did not commercially exploit Valentine's name.
The defendants did not use her name to directly promote a product or service.
Use of a name is not harmful simply because it is included in a publication sold for profit.
As the court correctly noted, an interpretation that the statute absolutely bars the use of an individual's name without consent for any purpose would raise grave questions as to its constitutionality.
The court properly construed the statute to avoid confronting the constitutional question. United States v. Clark, 445 U.S. 23, 63 L. Ed. 2d 171, 100 S. Ct. 895 (1980). Id.