Don’t hologram me

Posted by David Konow

With the Tupac hologram making its debut at Coachella there’s been a lot of press speculation, often facetious, about what long gone celebrity could be hologramed next.



You know Elvis wouldn’t be far behind, and sure enough, the news hit that an Elvis hologram was indeed in the works for many different varieties of media.

Then the news hit of the estate of Marilyn Monroe threatening to sue over hologram plans. As the Hollywood Reporter tells us, there were plans for a Marilyn hologram to appear at a concert through a company called Digicon before the estate swooped in with legal threats.
 
But as writer Eric Gardner reports, Digion "insists that it has done something unprecedented – copyrighted a human persona – and that the statute of limitations has passed on any possible legal objection since the estate knew about what has been in development for more than fifteen years."
 
If it has in fact been fifteen years, clearly the technology has caught up to where a hologram can be pretty realistic and lifelike. Still, whoever owns a celebrity’s image and likeness can obviously step in and stop it if they feel it’s bad for the celebrity’s image.
 
There’s certainly going to be more legal threats to come like this, especially if there’s money to be made off a revived celebrity, especially when they’re still raking in big bucks like Elvis.


As Fast Company just reported, there’s more money these days in live performance than people paying for an album or a song, with concert revenue up in ten years from $1.7 billion to $4.3 billion, while music sales went down from $13.7 billion to $3.4 billion.
 
Still, the Tupac hologram cost over $100,000, and as a source told Fast Company, whatever money the hologram’s making, it would be split between whoever owns the person’s image, the publishing company that owns the songs, the estate, and whoever owns the intellectual property rights for the hologram itself. And I know I’m not alone in thinking all this stuff doesn’t totally feel kosher.
 
You may remember there were debates about this when Fred Astaire was dancing with a vacuum cleaner with the help of CGI on a commercial, and the Honeymooners were hilariously brought back for a Braun kitchen utensil ad, so it remains to be seen how the holograms will be used in the future, and of course, how the money’s going to be divided up.