Intellectual Property Services

What are image rights?

An image of a face

Here’s another example of UK law not keeping pace with the real world. “Image Rights” are not defined in any UK law, but there are times where the courts will recognise that a person (especially a famous person) has the right to protect (and make money from) their name, image likeness or something else that makes them stand out (like their signature or special move or a catchphrase or nickname).

Guernsey has lead the way, allowing the registration of a “personality right” since 2012. With a general election in 2015, the likelihood of the rest of the UK following suit in the near future is small. In the mean time, there are other ways that other rules and regulations can be used to help – and some of the privacy laws can also apply to us “normal” people!

That said, lots of parents believe that it is against the law for a person to take photos of their child without their permission. That’s not the case in the UK (although there are some special situations where protection is available).

The position gets even more complicated for tribute acts: are they using the image rights of a celebrity or not?

If you are a public figure, there are some steps you can take to protect your reputation (and your income streams). If you want to use an image of a celebrity, you might need to take care. In either case, if you would like some more guidance on image rights, please contact me.


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