ASSEMBLY BILL 826 (VASCONCELLOS-1971)
CHAPTER 1595, STATUTES OF 1971, AB 826
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Civil Code section 3344 was enacted in 1971 following legislative passage of Assembly Bill 826, a single-section bill that affected only this section. (See Exhibit #1f) Assembly Bill 826 was introduced by Assembly member John Vasconcellos on March 8, 1971 at the request of individuals whose names had been “used in connection with a magazine advertising scheme.” (See Exhibits #1a and #5, document SP-1)
Assembly Bill 826 was heard by the Assembly and Senate Committees on Judiciary before being passed by both Houses, receiving only one “No” vote. (See Exhibits #2, #3, #4, and #7, document PE‑1) This bill was amended four times as it was considered by the Legislature. (See Exhibits #1b through #1e and #2) Governor Ronald Reagan signed the measure on November 22, 1971, and it was thereafter recorded by the Secretary of State as Chapter 1595 of the Statutes of 1971. (See Exhibits #1f and #2)
In his November 10, 1971 letter to Governor Reagan, the author of this bill, Assembly member Vasconcellos, described Assembly Bill 826 as follows:
This bill fills a gap which exists in the common law tort of invasion of privacy in the State of California. Several other states, New York among them, have found it necessary to use legislation to fill this gap.
Misappropriation of an individual’s name for commercial purposes is a tort at common law; however, damages are difficult to prove unless the person’s name has a commercial value on the open market, as would the name of a celebrity or sports star. Assembly Bill 826 establishes a concrete remedy for the little man with a minimum of $300 payment.
Assembly Bill 826 extends the scope of this remedy to include the misappropriation of an individual’s photograph or likeness as well as his name. It protects a person’s identity from being exploited by others for their own commercial gain.
(See Exhibit #7, document PE-4)