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N’yuk, n’yuk — Stooges heirs win

SHARE N’yuk, n’yuk — Stooges heirs win

WASHINGTON — Heirs of the Three Stooges will get profits from posthumous depictions of Moe, Larry and Curly, thanks to the Supreme Court.

The court bypassed a chance to give First Amendment protection to photographers and artists who specialize in celebrities, turning back an appeal from Los Angeles artist Gary Saderup. Justices did not comment in refusing to review the case that pitted freedom of expression against property rights.

Saderup also lost in the California Supreme Court, which ruled last spring that he violated a state law by not getting consent before putting a picture of the slapstick comedians on shirts and lithographs.

Now Saderup must pay the $75,000 he made from the products to the heirs and cover their legal fees.

California is one of 17 states that give heirs some right to control publicity. In that state, heirs have rights to the likenesses, names, voices, signatures and photographs for 70 years after the death. Larry Fine and Moe Howard died in 1975 and the third stooge, Curly Joe DeRita, died in 1993.