Contracts Generally

To avoid addressing First Amendment issues, courts will sometimes resolve conflicts over censorship by considering the specific terms of any contractual arrangement governing the situation. Depending upon the facts and circumstances of the case, the court may find that the artist has waived his or her free speech rights, particularly if the government acts as a purchaser of the artwork. At other times, breach of contract claims, such as lease terms, are utilized by government agencies as a pretext for regulating speech. If they are clearly pretextual, and the real purpose is to stifle a particular viewpoint, such claims are unconstitutional.

Related Cases

Garcia v. Google--An actress has no copyright claim to a film clip of her performance that is later doctored and used in a longer movie.

Lebron v. National Railroad Passenger Corp--Lebron leased ad space at Penn Station to create political billboard displays. Amtrak rejected one of Lebron's displays, and Lebron challenged that decision.  

Lilly v. Smith--Lilly sued Smith for displaying his works on Smith's website, which Lilly claimed was done without permission. 

Wildmon v. Berwick Universal Pictures--Wildmon objected to the use of his image in a documentary, and hoped to stop distribution of the documentary on the terms of the contract. 

These materials are not intended, and should not be used, as legal advice. They necessarily contain generalizations that are not applicable in all jurisdictions or circumstances. Moreover, court decisions may be superseded by subsequent rulings, and may be subject to alternative interpretations. Corrections, clarification, and additions are welcome here.