But in May, both a California and New York court ruled against her, claiming that the concept of a post-mortem right of publicity did not exist until legislation to that effect passed in 1984, so Monroe could not have bequeathed them at the time of her death. (That law, dubbed The Dead Celebrities Act, grants posthumous rights for 70 years.) Those decisions pave the way for other firms to license Monroe images without cooperation from her estate.
That has made celebrities who died before 1984 fair game for licensing deals without the permission of their heirs. In early October, California passed a bill that effectively overrides the recent court decisions and grants posthumous publicity rights to celebrities who died before 1984 to their heirs. It's still unclear what the net effect of the legislation will be on the disputed Monroe images.