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Topic : Protecting Your Persona: Understanding Personality Rights in India

GS-2 Mains : Polity

Revision Notes


  • A recent Delhi High Court ruling protected the personality and publicity rights of a Bollywood actor.

  • The court restricted unauthorized use of the actor’s name, image, voice, and likeness by various entities.

What are Personality Rights?

  • Personality rights safeguard an individual’s right to control their public image.

  • These rights encompass aspects like name, image, voice, mannerisms, or even a signature pose.

Importance for Celebrities:

  • Celebrities rely heavily on their public image for commercial success.

  • Misuse of their identity for advertisements can damage their reputation and brand value.

Legal Framework in India:

  • Personality rights are not explicitly mentioned in Indian law, but fall under the umbrella of:

    • Right to Privacy

    • Right to Property

Types of Personality Rights:

  • Right of Publicity: Protects against unauthorized commercial exploitation of one’s image or likeness. (Similar to trademark protection)

  • Right to Privacy: Ensures control over how one’s personality is presented publicly.

Publicity Rights vs. Right to Pass Off:

  • Publicity rights address unauthorized commercial use of a person’s identity.

  • Right to Pass Off (a tort) deals with misrepresentation of goods or services as belonging to another party, causing financial or reputational harm.

Legal Protection for Publicity Rights:

  • In India, publicity rights find support in existing laws like:

    • Trade Marks Act, 1999

    • Copyright Act, 1957

Protecting Your Image: Celebrity Rights in India

Key Points:

  • No Specific Law: India doesn’t have a law specifically for personality rights, but courts use right to privacy and property rights for protection.

  • Legal Action: Celebrities can sue for injunction (court order to stop) against unauthorized commercial use of their persona (name, image, voice etc.).

    • Injunction Types:

      • Ex-parte injunction: Relief granted without hearing the other side.

      • Omnibus injunction: Protection against any unauthorized use, even unforeseen ones.

Criteria for Injunction (as per Titan Case):

  1. Valid Right: The celebrity must have a legally recognized right to their identity/persona.

  2. Easy Identification: The unauthorized use must clearly identify the celebrity.

    • Well-known celebrities need no additional proof.

    • Others might need evidence to establish association.

Landmark Cases:

  • 2022, Delhi HC: Anil Kapoor sues for protection of his name, image, mannerisms etc. (similar case involving copyright was also filed).

  • 2022, Delhi HC: Amitabh Bachchan sues to prevent use of his name variations (“Big B”), style of speaking etc.

  • 2015, Madras HC: Case involving actor Rajnikanth establishes “personality right vests on celebrities”.

Source : https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/delhi/delhi-hc-protects-personality-rights-jackie-shroff-restrains-misuse-name-image-voice-consent-9336731/

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