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Lynch strikes down Salinger bill

Gov. John Lynch has vetoed a bill that regulates the commercial use of a person's identity because he said it could have a 'chilling effect' on journalists and free speech.

Senate Bill 175, inspired by J.D. Salinger's family to prevent the exploitation of his image, asserts a person's right to control the commercial use of their identity for 70 years after their death. But Lynch's veto message yesterday said the legislation 'is overly broad, would potentially have a chilling effect on legitimate journalistic and expressive works that are protected by the New Hampshire and United States constitutions, and would invite rather than diminish litigation over legitimate journalistic and expressive use of a person's identity.'

'The protections for free speech that are guaranteed to all citizens under the state and federal constitutions are central to democracy and a free society,' Lynch said. 'Legislation that could have the impact of restricting free speech must be carefully considered and narrowly tailored.'

Lynch said other states that passed similar bills 'have specifically exempted the use of a person's identity in conjunction with news, public affairs and expressive speech.' Such language was included in the bill initially passed by the Senate, but the House removed it later.

The Senate agreed to the House's amendment last month on a voice vote, so it is not yet clear if both houses of the Republican-controlled Legislature have the two-thirds majority necessary to override the Democratic governor's veto.

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