Personality rights are a person’s rights to safeguard their identity under the guise of their right to privacy or property.
Well-known personalities or celebrities have a legitimate interest in protecting these rights because it is relatively straightforward for different businesses to make improper use of their names, photographs, or even voices in a variety of advertisements in an effort to increase their customer base. As a result of this, well-known people and entertainers are required to register their names in order to protect the personality rights associated with their names. The formation of a superstar involves the accumulation of a vast number of distinctively individual characteristics. All of these characteristics need to be safeguarded, including the name, the stage name, the photograph and the images.
Protection of Rights through Legislation –
In India, there is no legislation or rule that effectively protects personality rights. The right to one’s own life and the right to personal liberty are both protected under the Indian Constitution’s Article 21. The definition of “Article 21” has been extended to include the “Right to privacy” by the Honourable Supreme Court. [i]
The Copyright Act of 1957 is piece of legislation that safeguards personality rights. Only authors and performers—including actors, singers, musicians, and dancers—are given moral rights, according to the Act. Section 57 of the Copyright Act of 1957, which is in line with Article 6bis of the Berne Convention, mentions about moral rights. These unique rights, which include the rights to paternity and integrity, belong to the author or creator. A creator has the right to claim authorship of the work under section 57 of the Indian copyright laws. Additionally, he is entitled to seek an injunction against the violation or penalties under Section 55.
Apart from this, S.14 and S.35 of Trademarks Act 1999, also protects the personality rights of an individual. Both the plaintiff and the defendant in the case of Precious Jewels & Anr vs. Varun Gems[ii] shared the surname “Rakyan” as there’re from the same family. The plaintiff argued that the defendants should be prohibited from using the “RAKYAN” surname trademark in connection with their business activities. However, the Supreme Court ruled against the Plaintiff, holding that anyone can legitimately and in bona fide manner conduct business under their own name under Section 35 of the Trademark Act.
Personality rights can be broken down into two categories.
The Right to Publicity –
The right to prevent commercial exploitation of one’s image or likeness without authorization or contractual compensation, which is comparable to the use of a trademark but is not the same thing at all.
In common law jurisdictions, publicity rights are governed by the tort of passing off. Statutes such as the Trade marks Act 1999 and the Copyright Act 1957 are the ones responsible for regulating publicity rights.
The Right to Privacy –
The ability to prevent one’s personality from being depicted in public without the person’s prior permission.
The Indian Constitution’s Article 21, provides the most direct means of securing human rights over time, India also started to recognize these rights through a number of significant judgments.
In ICC Development (International) Ltd. versus Arvee Enterprises[iii], one of the Delhi High Court’s most crucial rulings pertaining to personality rights, it was decided that –
“The privilege of attention has advanced from the privilege of protection and can inhere just in an individual or in any indicia of a person’s identity like his name, identity attribute, signature, voice and so forth. An individual may secure the privilege of attention by temperance of his relationship with an occasion, sport, motion picture, and so forth”.
In Titan Industries v. Rajkumar Jewellers[iv], the court defined personality rights as the right to be free from invasions of one’s privacy and solitude, the disclosure of private information to the public, the public misrepresentation of one’s appearance, and the use of one’s name for unjust financial gain.
In this case, Titan Industries had Amitabh and Jaya Bachchan appear in an advertisement for their brand Tanishq. However, Rajkumar Jewellers simply stole the image and other creative, duplicating Tanishq’s billboards with the actors’ photographs and added their own trademarks and trade names to them in order to attract consumers to their own jewellery products. The Court found the defendant responsible but added that there must be clear evidence that a right has been breached and that personality rights end when there is no longer a significant business benefit.
Personality rights cannot be adequately protected by any of the current IPR systems. Inconsistent with the idea of personality rights are the gaps in the laws controlling trademarks, passing off, and copyright. Therefore, personality rights are unique and cannot be classified under any existing intellectual property legislation.
Legislation should reflect the modern era in light of the rise in public interest in protecting the privacy of those in the public eye.
The future of famous people’s efforts to protect their identities in the creative ecosystem, where the idea of privacy is exceedingly weak and may be readily infiltrated, remains unclear.
[i] Additional District Magistrate vs. S. S. Shukla Etc. 1976 AIR 1207, 1976 SCR 172
[ii] Precious Jewels Vs. Varun Gems 2014 (60) PTC 465 (SC)
[iii] Icc Development (International) vs. Arvee Enterprises And Anr 2003 VIIAD Delhi 405, 2003 (26) PTC 245 Del, 2004 (1) RAJ 10
[iv] Titan Industries Ltd. v. M/s. Ramkumar Jewellers, 2012 (50) PTC 486 (Del)