Earlier this week, Wrestling Inc. reported that the Vince McMahon and the WWE issued a mandate that the “talent” cannot “engage with outside third parties.”
“Some of you are engaged with outside third parties using your name and likeness in ways that are detrimental to our company. It is imperative that these activities be terminated within the next 30 days (by Friday October 2). Continued violations will result in fines, suspension, or termination at WWE’s discretion.”Vince McMahon – WWE Official Statement
My understanding is that the reason for Vince to issue this proclamation was because of Lana promoting “Bang Energy” drink on her instagram account, according to Dave Meltzer.
The controversy, along with this mandate, from my understanding, is that Vince McMahon says the company owns the real names of the WWE talent along with their fictitious names. My understanding is that WWE talent are independent contractors, not employees of the company. I imagine that many of them use third-party platforms such as Twitch to earn additional revenue.
Obviously, I do not know the language written in the contracts; it seems foolish to give away the rights to your legal name to a company you don’t own. Otherwise, how legal is WWE’s position to enforce such an edict? Social media, through third-party platforms, is another way for talent to expand on their brand by building their following.
In my opinion, I can see where WWE would have an issue with talent promoting unsanctioned products using their WWE alias or WWE facility; however, I don’t know where the company can impose ownership over someone’s name and brand unless the contract gives them the right.
This is an interesting development.