Free Speech, Satire and Image Ownership

The NYTimes editorial page on the governor of California’s recent lawsuit: Whiplash

Mr. Schwarzenegger has every right to claim full legal ownership of himself and his image as an actor and to guard it jealously against infringement. It’s a little tougher for him to do so as a politician. A company cannot legally make money by selling ordinary Schwarzenegger merchandise without his permission. But it can do so if something is done to the image to make it satirical or a commentary. That’s something political figures have to learn to live with.

For the governor, this bobblehead case may be the first clear indication that he has crossed an invisible line from one kind of public life to another. As a politician, he belongs to the people now, especially if they’re making fun of him.