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The Boston Globe

Ideas

Ideas

Who owns you after you die?

A Massachusetts bill opens a window on a shifting corner of the law.

The idea for the law came, more or less, from Bill Cosby. The comedian, who lives in Shelburne Falls, was worried about what would happen after he died—that opportunists would one day use his name and image to promote stuff he’d never want to be associated with. Cosby’s lawyer called his state senator, Stanley Rosenberg, and asked him to sponsor a bill that would let her client—and everyone else who lives in Massachusetts—protect their faces, names, speech patterns, and various signature affectations by passing the rights to them down to their heirs.

 Cosby’s lawyer got results. Late last month, Rosenberg’s bill passed the Senate in Massachusetts and was sent to the House Committee on Ways and Means. It could be passed before the end of the year.

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