Hebrew University loses Einstein copyright case

US District Court rules against university in favor of GM in a case involving ad for its Terrain vehicle.

October 23, 2012 22:34
1 minute read.
Ad for the GMC Terrain using Albert Einstein

Albert Einstein sexy 370. (photo credit: Ad for GM Terrain)


Dear Reader,
As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analyses from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

As one of our loyal readers, we ask you to be our partner.

For $5 a month you will receive access to the following:

  • A user uxperience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew, Ivrit
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Repor
  • A brand new ePaper featuring the daily newspaper as it appears in print in Israel

Help us grow and continue telling Israel’s story to the world.

Thank you,

Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO, Jerusalem Post Group
Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief

UPGRADE YOUR JPOST EXPERIENCE FOR 5$ PER MONTH Show me later Don't show it again

The Hebrew University of Jerusalem has lost a copyright infringement case for the exclusive use of Albert Einstein's image for commercial purposes. Last week, the US District Court for the Central District of California ruled against the university in favor of General Motors LLC in a case involving GM's ad for its 2010 Terrain vehicle, which ran in an issue of "People" magazine in 2009.

Hebrew University, which earns millions of dollars a year from the use of Einstein's image, earned nothing from this ad. Hebrew University claimed the right of publicity as the beneficiary of Einstein’s estate, which accrue to the university in 1982 by the terms of Einstein’s will.

Be the first to know - Join our Facebook page.

The ad featured Einstein’s well known face with a slight change. Instead of the wool sweater, dress shirt, and tie Einstein commonly wore, his face is attached to a ripped, shirtless torso with an e=mc2 tattoo on his shoulder. The tagline of the ad is “Ideas are sexy too.”

The court dismissed the case, after deciding that Hebrew University's right of publicity was only valid for 50 years, and that it expired in 2005 - 50 years after Einstein's death in 1955. The court ruled that the university had no cause of action.

The court said that a maximum duration of 50 years "appropriately reflects the balance between meaningful enforcement . . . and the public’s interest in free expression. Einstein is thoroughly ingrained in our cultural heritage and that at some point needs to be available for expression and not just as a possession, even for tasteless ads."

Related Content

August 31, 2014
Rioting resumes throughout east Jerusalem Saturday night