Tiger Woods Sues Over Painting

Thursday, August 24th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The Society of Professional Journalists has asked a federal appeals court to reject a lawsuit filed by Tiger Woods against an artist who sold copies of a painting of the golfer.

The Indianapolis-based organization says Woods' appeal threatens First Amendment rights.

Woods sued Alabama artist Rick Rush after he sold prints of a painting he did on the golfer's Masters tournament victory in April 1997. Woods claims the sale violates his trademark and right of publicity.

Woods lost the first round of the lawsuit in April when a Cleveland judge threw out the case, saying that trademark or property rights laws do not protect Woods' image. The judge ruled the First Amendment allows Rush to paint the golfer's image and profit from copies of the artwork.

The SPJ on Wednesday joined the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press in filing a friend-of-the-court brief in the ongoing case. The brief asks the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in Ohio to reject Woods' appeal.

The lawsuit was filed in Cleveland because Woods' company, ETW Corp., is based there.

SPJ and other organizations believe that if Woods' appeal is successful, it would increase the potential for publicity rights laws to extend into the newsgathering process.