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Originally published Monday, May 3, 2010 at 4:53 PM

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Calif. lawmakers protect images of fallen troops

California lawmakers on Monday voted to ban the sale of merchandise featuring the names or likenesses of fallen troops.

Associated Press Writer


California lawmakers on Monday voted to ban the sale of merchandise featuring the names or likenesses of fallen troops.

The state Assembly voted unanimously to expand a current law prohibiting the unauthorized use of a deceased celebrity's image, voice or signature for commercial purposes.

The bill, AB585, would extend the same protection to others whose names or likenesses suddenly gain commercial value after their death.

The measure was prompted by the Internet sale of anti-war T-shirts and other merchandise displaying the names of American service members killed in Iraq.

One of the better-known websites,, continues to sell a shirt featuring the names of 4,058 service members who died in Iraq between March 20, 2003, and April 30, 2008.

The author of AB585, Assemblyman Paul Cook, R-Yucca Valley, called such practices exploitative and disrespectful.

"We're trying to cut down on people who would capitalize on these deaths for commercial reasons, and show some respect to the families," he said.

The bill returned to the Assembly on Monday after passing unanimously through the Senate last week. It now goes to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

At least five other states have passed similar legislation in recent years.

One such law, in Arizona, was blocked by a federal court in 2008 after the state's branch of the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit saying it violated the First Amendment's free-speech protections.

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