I heard about someone who had to do with recording a Jerry Garcia solo album but he died right before it came out and this guy made TONS of money off of it. The Beatles also got a lot of attention when some paranoid guy decided Paul was dead. So my question is: would it be legal for someone to fake their own death (like through press releases and fake information sent to newspapers) to sell their records but then reveal it was fake a bit later?
would it be legal for someone to fake their own death (like through press releases and fake information sent to newspapers) to sell their records but then reveal it was fake a bit later?
It is unethical and immoral, although not actionable.
The faking of a musician's death for the purpose of selling more records cannot by itself meet the prima facie elements of fraud, where
the plaintiff must prove that the defendant made a false representation intending thereby to induce [the] plaintiff to rely thereon and that the plaintiff justifiably relied thereon to his or her damage.
McNulty v. Chip, 116 A.3d 173, 182-83 (R.I. 2015) (brackets in original, emphasis added).
In the context you outline, it would be untenable for consumers to allege that their reliance on the fake news led to (or justifies) their decision to purchase the musician's album.
For it to be actionable, there would have to be additional and very specific (~unlikely) consequences. For instance, that the fake news prompted Law Enforcement to investigate the circumstances of the death.
As a more intricate example, suppose that (1) the fake news is that the "dead" musician was exposed to chemical substance or radioactive material in his home, and (2) that fake news causes disorderly conduct, panic, and/or hearth attack among his neighbors (for neighbors' concerns that the neighborhood might be contaminated as well). Even if the musician argues that the legislative intent of MCL 750.200l is not the prosecution of fake news devised to boost sales of records, he could be liable for any consequences (medical and otherwise) that his intentional misrepresentation caused.