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Inside HBO’s Lakers Headache

Jason Clarke
Photo by Warrick Page/HBO
Eriq Gardner
April 25, 2022

In Hollywood, there’s a market for peace of mind. The product is called “life rights,” which unlike copyrights, trademarks, and patents, is not recognized by any specific statute. Life rights are really just a promise not to sue over a movie or TV show. Plus, people who sell life rights might offer some cooperation on the publicity front. But it’s really not legally necessary to buy these rights. Again, it’s for peace of mind. It can be a shakedown for agents who represent the famous, the accidentally and fleetingly famous (think rescued Chilean miners), and the notorious (e.g. Anna Sorokin).

Not all studios buy life rights before proceeding with a biopic. And some famous individuals have no interest—no matter the financial offer—in being fictionalized. Alas, occasionally, amid the sea of movies and TV shows “based on true events” (Hulu’s The Dropout and Pam & Tommy, AppleTV+’s WeCrashed, Showtime’s SuperPumped, to name a few recent standouts), someone threatens to sue.