Negotiating Name, Image and Likeness in Sports

  • March 20, 2024
  • Kayley C. Leon

While Name, Image and Likeness rights (also known as “NIL” rights) are not new forms of athlete compensation, these rights have gained a newfound appreciation due to recent college-level rule changes in the United States (the “U.S.”). The following provides a high-level overview of NIL rights and recent developments in the area.

What are NIL rights?

An athlete’s NIL for commercial purposes is protected under tort law in both Canada and the U.S.  

In Canada, the tort of “wrongful appropriation of personality” involves the “wrongful exploitation of the name and likeness of someone else for commercial purposes, such as when an athlete’s name or image is used to endorse a product without the athlete’s knowledge or consent.”[1] In the U.S., this tort is referred to as the “right of publicity,” which involves the “right of an individual…to control the commercial value and exploitation of [their] name and picture or likeness and to prevent others from unfairly appropriating this value for their commercial benefit.”[2]