Discussion

Peterson Corporation wanted to run an ad campaign that featured popular songs sung by the original singer. The aim was to make an emotional connection with people who remembered the songs. When Bette was approached to sing for the commercial, she refused saying she did not “do” commercials. Peterson Corporation still wanted to use the song, so they hired a backup singer for Bette and she was told to “sound as much as possible like the Bette record”. The backup singer did the commercial, and people, even close acquaintances of Bette, thought it was her. Bette sued Peterson Corporation for wrongfully appropriating her likeness.

Is it wrong to intentionally imitate a well known voice to advertise merchandise without the person’s permission?

Answer:

Yes, intentionally imitating a well-known voice to advertise merchandise without the person’s permission can be considered wrong and could potentially constitute a violation of that person’s rights. In this scenario, Bette’s likeness and voice were used without her consent, which raises ethical and legal concerns.

Individuals have the right to control the commercial use of their likeness, voice, and other aspects of their identity. When a company uses someone’s voice or likeness without permission, it can mislead consumers and potentially damage the individual’s reputation or brand.

Bette’s refusal to participate in the commercial indicates her lack of consent for her likeness or voice to be used in this context. By hiring a backup singer to imitate her voice without permission, Peterson Corporation disregarded Bette’s rights and potentially harmed her reputation by misleading the public into believing she endorsed the product.

From an ethical standpoint, respecting individuals’ autonomy and right to control their own image and voice is paramount. Using someone’s likeness or voice without their consent undermines their agency and can be exploitative. Therefore, in this scenario, it would likely be considered wrong to intentionally imitate Bette’s voice for commercial purposes without her permission, and Bette would have grounds to sue for wrongful appropriation of her likeness.

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