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Fishers company loses Marilyn Monroe court appeal

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CMG Worldwide, an intellectual property licensing firm in Fishers, has lost a federal court appeal related to ownership of iconic images of Marilyn Monroe.

The appeal stems from a decision in March 2008 by a federal judge in California, who determined that CMG and client Marilyn Monroe LLC didn’t own rights of publicity in that state because the famous actress didn’t reside in that jurisdiction at the time of her death in 1962.

The two had sued photography studios in California and Oregon in U.S. District Court in Indianapolis, claiming they were violating copyrights by using Monroe’s image.

The case was transferred to a federal court in California and consolidated with a similar suit involving another photographer.

Marilyn Monroe and CMG appealed, and the appeals court on Thursday affirmed the earlier decision.

In their ruling, the judges said: “We observe that the lengthy dispute over the exploitation of Marilyn Monroe’s persona has ended in exactly the way that Monroe herself predicted more that fifty years ago: ‘I knew I belonged to the public and to the world, not because I was talented or even beautiful but because I had never belonged to anything or anyone else.’”

Monroe licensing fees typically raked in more than $30 million annually prior to 2008, with CMG pocketing about a quarter of that amount.

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