Hot Dog! Travel Channel Wins Lawsuit

The Travel Channel recently won a lawsuit filed by a customer who was filmed at an Illinois hot dog stand. And because I assume my readers are collectively saying “huh?” right now, I will explain. Jennifer Zglobicki was a customer at the Wiener’s Circle hot dog stand in Illinois on the day that the Travel Channel was filming an episode of Extreme Fast Food. Apparently, the staff at the Wiener’s Circle serves up insults and abuse along with the dogs. Zglobicki got a heaping helping apparently, and it was memorialized by the Travel Channel’s cameras. Following the broadcast, she sued under the Illinois Right of Publicity Act. That law prohibits anyone from making a commercial use of another person’s name or likeness. The key word there being “commercial.” Because Extreme Fast Food broadcasts matters of “general interest … and concern to the public” it has protection under the First Amendment. In retrospect, the Travel Channel may have saved itself some hassle by getting consent from Ms. Zglobicki or simply blurring out her face. But it’s nice to know I suppose that the First Amendment protects our right to see abusive fast food workers in action. I wonder if the Founding Fathers had that in mind.