Robin Williams banned use of image for 25 years after his death

(Sarah Thomas)  The incomparable talent of Robin Williams will remain a sorely missed presence in feature films in years to come, but it appears his image or name won’t appear in advertising or even referenced in future works in a unique legal move which bans his appearance until 2039.

As the family of Robin Williams continues to battle over the late actor’s estate, it has emerged that Williams had restricted any use of his image for 25 years after his death.

In a move which would nix any use of Williams in advertising or in any future movies through digital insertion or even by name, it appears to be a pioneering measure to protect his estate against future tax liabilities, says The Hollywood Reporter.

In the innovative legal step, Williams had transferred all rights to his identity to a nonprofit organisation in the event of his death. All ownership rights to Williams’ “name, voice, signature, photograph, likeness and right of privacy/publicity” come under the charitable Windfall Foundation and cannot be used until August 2039.

The Hollywood Reporter suggests it was a move to avoid problems such as that facing Michael Jackson’s estate, which apparently owes more than $US500 million ($653 million) in taxes and $US200 million in penalties due to taxes from publicity rights.

Details emerged following court proceedings on Monday in San Francisco, where a legal document outlining the Robin Williams Trust and establishment of the Windfall Foundation featured as one of the exhibits.

Signed on January 31, 2012, the Robin Williams Trust laid out the above set-up as well as provisions for his family and other beneficiaries.

Williams’ widow Susan Schneider Williams and his three children Zelda, Zachary and Cody are currently battling it out in court over the actor’s personal effects.

The children are arguing against Susan Williams’ claim that items from the couple’s home in Tiburon, San Francisco Bay, are excluded from the objects to go to Williams’ children.

Susan Williams’ lawyer told the court on Monday that she wanted to keep wedding presents, the tuxedo that he wore at their wedding and photographs from his 60th birthday.

The two parties have agreed to attempt to resolve the case out of court before April 10, says E! Online. 

Robin Williams committed suicide on August 11, 2014, aged 63.

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