LEGALITIES CONCERNING IMAGE RIGHTS
PUBLISHED ON 06.09.2021 BY MS. APARNA JAIN, MS. HARINDER NARVAN, MS. AASHRIKA AHUJA AND MR. KARANVEER SINGH
CONCEPT OF IMAGE RIGHTS
Image Rights are a valuable form of intellectual property and broadly include within its ambit right over a celebrity’s, still, moving or animated image, name, signature, recorded voice, iconic act, logo, trademark as well as brand. Although there is no special law governing image rights but they can be protected under the umbrella of legislations concerning trademark, copyright and passing off. In today’s digital and modern era, images available on internet or even otherwise play a vital role, as they can influence the minds of public at large. Image rights have now become an expression of a personality in the public domain. Securing image rights enable protection in terms of commercial and social value of the image rights associated with a person. Further, from the perspective of valuation of Intellectual Property, carefully planning the strategy to protect image rights can be an added advantage in merchandising and contractual arrangements. Image Rights have the capacity to convey messages and create an impression in the minds of people. Over the years, many personalities with valuable images and related rights have been urged to use various IP laws to protect, license, enforce and control their image rights but since different jurisdictions have different approach towards protecting image rights, there is no uniformity in the way protection and utilisation of IP in image rights is governed worldwide. At Knowledgentia, we have experts for handling Global IPR Protection matters which include handling of sensitive issues as IP concerning image rights. In a wider sense, image rights are defined as “persona” or “brand”, for marketing. They are referred to as “access to services of a personality for the purpose of filming, television, broadcasting, audio recording, video and electronic pictures including but not limited to production of computer-generated images, still photographs, personal appearances, product endorsement and advertising in all media. Image rights also include the right to use personality’s name, likeness, autograph, story and accomplishments for promotional or commercial purposes.
Sports contributes largely to world trade. Tournaments like Olympic Games and the FIFA World Cup generate huge revenue not only through advertisements and tickets, but also through commercialization of sports image rights of well-known teams and sports persons. For example, Oliver Khan, a former German national goalkeeper, successfully sued Electronic Arts, a well-known games manufacturer, for using his name and image in an official FIFA computer football game without his express consent. In one of the case titled, Proactive Sports Management Limited v Rooney & Ors, image rights were defined as rights that individuals have in their personality, which enable them to control the exploitation of their name or picture. In this case, economic value of image rights was also highlighted. It was held that the endorsement of goods encourage the purchase and consumption of goods, and the same is in the interests of the public. Knowledgentia which is one of the best trademark and brand registration firm in India, has been instrumental in leading many of our clients towards protecting and securing their rights locally as well as globally.
SIGNIFICANCE OF REGISTERING IMAGE RIGHTS
- Owner can make direct reference to specific image rights when structuring any sponsorship deal and endorsement contract
- These rights can be willed and renewed and thus are not time bound.
- They provide a mechanism to tackle infringement by unauthorized third parties.
- They are territorial in nature and only have an impact and legal implication in country where they are granted.
- Online infringement of image rights is subject to jurisdiction of Guernsey courts that have implemented image rights registry.
PREVENTING ABUSE OF SPORTS IMAGE RIGHTS
In the case titled, Sports Club, Evelyn and Jocelyn plc v Inspector of Taxes 2000, image rights arrangements entered into by football club and two of its players, was challenged. It was held that :-
- The sum paid for the image rights should be a true and accurate reflection of the value of those rights.
- Negotiations should take place between the Image rights company and sports club in relation to the value the sports club places on the image rights.
- The sports club’s intention to exploit the image rights as well as the discussions and the valuation agreed upon should be documented at board level.
- The promotional activity of the player should be monitored so that the sports club can decide whether it is receiving value for money and to inform future image rights negotiations
This case has thus established an international norm that if image rights arrangements are to be effective, the taxpayer must establish that there is a commercial justification for the arrangements entered into. Thus, the image right is a property right capable of protection under the legislation through registration. The registration enables the image right to be protected, licensed and assigned which can be used for commercial and social purposes. Knowledgentia Consultants which is the best law firm in India can be your most trusted partner when it comes to securing and protecting all forms of intellectual property. Providing copyright registration services in India along with advisory services relating to different kinds of intellectual property, we ensure that we follow best international practices in guiding our clients.