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Marketing Firm CMG sues StockingGirl.com over Bettie Page’s image

from www.indystar.com – Bettie Page, the celebrated 1950s pinup girl with the shapely gams who died two years ago, lives again in the federal court in Indianapolis.

A Fishers celebrity-marketing firm that represents the model’s estate is trying to stop an unauthorized Web site, Stockingirl.com, from using Page’s name to sell intimate women’s apparel.

CMG Worldwide, the marketing firm, has filed suit in U.S. District Court, one of a growing number of suits designed to stop unlicensed use of clients’ names, voices, gestures, mannerisms and images.

“There is a lot of litigation now. We’ve never had so much,” said Mark A. Roesler, chairman of CMG, agent for about 300 celebrities. “We have about 50 suits in one stage or another.”

The CMG portfolio includes Marilyn Monroe, James Dean, Princess Diana, Babe Ruth, Vince Lombardi, Lou Gehrig, Marlon Brando, Mark Twain and Frank Lloyd Wright.

Roesler said unauthorized businesses are “trying to push” the envelope when they use the celebrity of clients that CMG has accumulated during the past three decades.

Indiana has become a focal point of the suits because it has one of the most restrictive laws in the country. “Different states have various statutes for their right of publicity,” Roesler said. “The statute in Indiana is 100 years of protection after (the celebrity’s) death. That’s one of the longest in the country.”

California, home to Hollywood stars of the big and small screens, allows celebrities to control their publicity up to 70 years after death, he said. Pennsylvania allows 30 years. Tennessee’s statute could allow protection forever, as long as the rights are used.

Roesler said the Internet has helped and hurt his work of policing unlicensed use of a celebrity’s image. Some stars are just too international.

A Google search for Bettie Page turns up more than 7.8 million stories and photos. CMG acquired the rights to Page’s name and image and is aggressive about protecting them. It has set up its own official Web site for Page, www.bettiepage .com, along with other Web sites for its many other celebrities.

CMG and the Bettie Page Trust want to stop Stockingirl.com, a Connecticut company, from using Page’s name to sell women’s garments, mostly in leather, lace and elastic, such as the Bettie leopard garter belt.

Stockingirl.com had a license to sell Bettie Page garments, Roesler said, but that was canceled more than a year ago.
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Edward Miccinati, owner of the Web business, initially denied that any unlicensed items were for sale on the site but later said he would remove any items that used Page’s name.

“All we carry is branded Stockingirl” items, he said. But a review of his Web site turned up other items named Marilyn and Bridget.

A new line of licensed Page clothing, including retro-look skirts and blouses and spiked heels, is available at an authorized site, bettiepage clothing.com, and stores have opened in Las Vegas and Los Angeles selling her authorized line.

Page, the subject of a 2006 biopic “The Notorious Bettie Page,” was one of the first pinup girls in the 1950s, appearing in scanty clothing or no clothing at all. She testified at congressional investigations of the early porn industry.

She appeared in early issues of Playboy magazine. Then she suddenly walked away from the business and became a born-again Christian. She worked in the 1960s for Billy Graham. Page died in 2008 at age 85, and her service was conducted by television evangelist Dr. Robert Schuller. In later years, Page gave very few interviews and avoided cameras.

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