In 2012, Guernsey established the world’s first image rights registry, allowing celebrities to commercially exploit not just their face but also their catchphrases, mannerisms and gestures. Usain Bolt®, for example, is able to register his victory lightning pose to stop unscrupulous advertisers anywhere in the world from hawking their wares using an image of a black man in running gear pretending to be Raijin or Thor or any other god of thunder and lightning. Intellectual property experts argue that current intellectual property laws fall short of protecting a person’s image and trade value. Guernsey, a major player in the wealth management industry, is well placed to implement legal structures which allow famous people an opportunity to benefit financially from their image and personality. This research will compare this new law and how it interacts with trademark dilution and publicity rights in the US, UK, Australia and Japan. This is an unexplored subject that will generate wide interest due to the implications in other legal systems. There is an increasing trend to regulate celebrity worldwide, and this law will have consequences in international law.
II. Celebrity and Personality
During the past 20 years, the cult of the celebrity has grown to such an extent that celebrities and personalities are able to generate wealth through their images. Traditionally, the celebrity was controlled by the corporations to which they were contracted – whether these be movie studios, record companies, sports clubs, and so on. Now, the individual has been able to take control of his/her affairs and how his/her image rights and other intellectual property generally has become ever more valuable (Evans & Stone, 2013). This inevitability of recognition of personality rights is compounded by the commercial practice of ‘image rights’ contracts.
Historically, copyright, trademark, and unfair trade practice laws were used to prevent unauthorized use of creative work or distinctive logo associated with an individual. These tools are purpose-specific and limited in their application. There have been numerous cases where recognized celebrities have attempted to use copyright or trademark laws to prevent the unauthorized benefit by others of characteristics unique to the personality concerned. Thus far, there has been no mechanism for an individual to control who may benefit from an association with a celebrity personality. The Bailiwick of Guernsey filled this gap by passing a law in December 2012 to specifically protect Image Rights.
III. Trademark and Publicity
Traditionally, there are two aspects of image rights that a celebrity is concerned with, namely:
1. exploitation of image rights through sale and transfer (e.g. licensing arrangements); and
2. protection of the image rights (and therefore their inherent value) through possible registration and (if necessary) infringement proceedings (Adrian, 2013a).
The value of image rights is such that they are already being actively managed and traded, despite the lack of clear legal recognition and the lack of clarity as to the extent of the rights. Nonetheless, image rights are commercially valuable and build upon international standards for intellectual property (Adrian, 2013b). The ability to record one’s legal property in an image right through registration aids both the economic exploitation of the right and also its protection. For those attempting to stop another person actually trading on their image or personal goodwill without consent, a combination of the current legal remedies often has been used together to build a less than perfect case to restrain an offending party and account for profits earned.
1. United States
The United States has perhaps the most complete and straightforward set of laws and policy considerations with regard to the right of publicity which grew out of an economic policy framework (Grant, 2006). The Restatement of Unfair Competition (1995) §38 defines the right of publicity as the appropriation of trade values. “One who causes harm to the commercial relations of another by appropriating the other’s intangible trade values is subject to liability to the other for such harm only if . . . the actor is subject to liability for an appropriation of the commercial value of the other’s identity.” Section 46 of the Restatement states that “One who appropriates the commercial value of a person’s identity by using without consent the person’s name, likeness, or other indicia of identity for the purposes of trade is subject to liability for the relief appropriate under the rules stated in §§ 48 and 49.”
Given the way that this area of law has been growing, that right is available to virtually everyone, not just to A-list celebrities. If you violate someone’s right of publicity, you can be forced to take down the content in question and/or pay monetary damages to that individual (Adrian, 2013a; Boisineau, 2012). One of the most intriguing recent cases, Fraley v. Facebook, Inc., 11-CV-01726 (N.D. Cal., Apr. 4, 2011), is a class action lawsuit against Facebook® over its ‘Sponsored Stories’ advertising services. Given that the plaintiffs in Fraley were able to show a “direct, linear relationship between the value of their endorsements of third-party products, companies, and brands to their Facebook® friends, and the alleged commercial profit gained by Facebook®,” they have been allowed to continue their right of publicity case. Although a Preliminary Approval Order has been made (Fraley v. Facebook, Inc., et al., no. 11-CV-01726 (N.D. Cal., Apr. 4, 2011), Amended Settlement Agreement, October 5, 2012), the Court held a Fairness Hearing in San Francisco on June 28, 2013. The Court issued its Order Granting Motion for Final Approval of Settlement Agreement on August 26, 2013, and the Final Judgment on September 19, 2013. However, appeals have been filed. Before any settlement payments can be made, all appeals filed must be resolved. To follow this case go to http://www.fraleyfacebooksettlement.com/ (last accessed 21 February 2014)
“In the United States, the dilution doctrine and the right of publicity have a great deal in common – not in their origins, but in their current application.” (LaFrance & Cline, 2008)
2. United Kingdom
In the United Kingdom, while not specifically recognized by statute, image rights are conceptually recognized and dealt with by the legal system on a daily basis. The standard Premier League Football® Players Contract specifically defines and deals with the ownership and commercial exploitation of a club footballer’s image rights in great detail (Proactive Sports Management Ltd v Rooney  EWCA 1444 Civ;  FSR 16, Wayne Rooney’s ‘Off-Field’ image case considered the application of the doctrine of restraint of trade.). However, because there is no public registration creating a property right like a trademark for image rights in the United Kingdom, only the parties to an image rights contract will be aware of and privy to the ownership rights created and dealt with therein. This may be desirable in some cases, but in others the owner of such a valuable right by way of assignment or license may want to publicly record and protect that ownership interest (Adrian, 2013a).
There have been two significant developments in the cases of Irvine v Talksport (Reported in the High Court at  EWHC 367 (Ch) and, on appeal, Irvine & Ors v Talksport Ltd  EWCA Civ 423) and Douglas v Hello! (Reported in the High Court at  EWHC (Ch) 786, on appeal to the Court of Appeal at  EWCA Civ 595, and on appeal to the House of Lords at  UKHL 21). In brief, the protection for publicity rights in the UK can be seen to derive from two torts: passing off and breach of confidence. These two torts reflect different elements of the commercial and personal practice of exploiting image and identity; and, they correspond to the prevailing philosophies of the US business concerns and the European dignity concerns. Nonetheless, this is a simplification of the position in all jurisdictions.
Australia tends to follow the traditional United Kingdom approach and does not currently embrace a discrete legal category known as a ‘right of publicity’ (Weathered, 2000). As such, there is no comprehensive protection of the commercial value attaching to features of celebrity identity such as name, likeness and image (Harvey, 1996). This is despite calls for the statutory development of such a right (Black, 2000; Ricketson, 1990). Nor does Australia protect ‘personality rights’ of individuals on the basis of privacy (Harvey, 1996).
Further, Australian Broadcasting Corporation v Lenah Game Meats (2001) 208 CLR 199 (‘Lenah Game Meats’), has re-opened the debate over the protection of individual privacy interests at common law, thought to have been long settled by the decision in Victoria Park Racing and Recreation Grounds Co Ltd v Taylor (1937) 58 CLR 479 (‘Victoria Park’). In Lenah Game Meats, Gaudron, Gummow, Hayne and Callinan JJ expressed the view that Victoria Park does not necessarily preclude the development of a tort of unjustified invasion of privacy. (Lenah Game Meats at 248 (Gummow and Hayne JJ), 231 (Gaudron J agreeing), 320–4 (Callinan J)). Interestingly, Callinan J, reflecting on the decision in Victoria Park, states that: ‘It may be that the time is approaching … for the recognition of a form of property in a spectacle. There is no reason why the law should not, as they emerge, or their value becomes evident, recognize new forms of property’. (Ibid at 321) See also the case of Grosse v Purvis  Aust Torts Reports 81, where the District Court of Queensland granted the plaintiff damages for breach of privacy, with Skoien J stating: “. . . in my view within the individual judgments [of the Lenah Game Meats decision] certain critical propositions can be identified with sufficient clarity to found the existence of a common law cause of action for invasion of privacy. … It is a bold step to take … [b]ut I see it as a logical and desirable step.” (Zapparoni, 2004)
In order to prevent the use of or be compensated for the use of his/her identity, a celebrity must seek to fit his/her claim within one of the common law or statutory intellectual property regimes such as trademark (Black, 2002), copyright and design law (Catanzariti, 2001), and/or passing off (Crennan, 1995). Further, section 52 of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (CCA) (formerly the Trade Practices Act 1974) prohibits a corporation, in trade or commerce, from engaging in misleading or deceptive conduct, or conduct likely to mislead or deceive. See, Talmax Pty Ltd v Telstra Corporation Ltd  2 Qd R 444. This case involved the use of a photograph of well-known sporting personality, Kieren Perkins, in association with a Telstra advertisement. The Full Federal Court granted a remedy which in part sought to compensate for the fact that the unauthorized publication ‘diminished [Perkins’] opportunity to exploit his name, image and reputation.’ (Ibid)
However, this protection is limited, being ‘incidental, in the sense that it is a by-product of the protection of some other subject-matter.’ (Ricketson, 1990)
Despite Japan’s civil law tradition, Japanese courts acknowledge privacy and publicity rights as constitutional moral rights even though they are not explicitly mentioned either the Constitution or specific legislation (LaFrance & Cline, 2008). Nevertheless, the right is recognized by reference to the Constitution, the Civil Code, the Copyright Act, or a combination of the three. Japan recognizes that celebrities have both a right of publicity – an economic right, and a right of privacy – a moral right (Ibid). A celebrity’s moral right is infringed if his/her name or likeness is used in a way that harms his/her fame or reputation (Ibid). Absent such harm, only the economic right is infringed. Finally, the right of publicity is not limited to name or likeness. The Tokyo District Court has held that “the essence of the right to publicity is the power to attract public attention,” and that the right extends to “any matter with economic value, arising out of that celebrities’ [sic] fame or reputation due to the attraction of public attention.” (King Crimson case, 1644 HANREI JIHO 141 (Tokyo D. Court, January 21, 1998))
IV. Image Rights
Image rights involve the commercial appropriation or exploitation of a person’s identity and associated images linked to that person. They are related to the distinctive expressions, characteristics or attributes of, or associated with, a personality made available to public perception. The Image Rights (Bailiwick of Guernsey) Ordinance 2012 (IRO) establishes a new form of intellectual property, previously unrecognized in a registrable form. Two key concepts anchor the legislation: (1) the ‘registered personality’, and (2) ‘images’ which are associated with or registered against that registered personality. The core right is the registered personality (Adrian, 2013a).
The IRO facilitates the registration of personality and any image rights (including rights in characteristics, mannerisms or traits) unique to that personality. The ability to carry out such a registration and obtain a property right in one’s image is a watershed and allows one to effectively register and protect one’s personality and image rights as a matter of public record. With this registration, the appropriation by others of a Registered Personality or associated characteristics, for unauthorized economic benefit may give rise to statutory infringement proceedings under the IRO (Ibid).
Previously, the ability to publicly assert, exploit and protect image rights has instead depended on the use of a number of laws that seek to protect specific types of intellectual property, but where none are specifically designed for protecting such rights. In contrast to the existing legal concepts, ‘personality’ has now become a property right – i.e. not just something that happens to a person, but something that can be commercially exploited by, but also stolen from, a person. The IRO provides a legal framework which protects both economic and dignitary interests, without having to sacrifice one for the other (Ibid).
The benefits are numerous: any person, be they a natural person or a legal entity, can register their personality as a unique and exploitable asset. Moreover, the term ‘personality’ includes fictional personalities or the personalities of persons who have died within the last 100 years. It also permits joint and group registrations. Accordingly, Walt Disney Studios®, for example, could choose to register Mickey Mouse® as a personality, or the estate of Albert Einstein® could choose to register Einstein’s® personality (Adrian, 2013b). The registration of a personality immediately captures all present, historic and future images associated with that personality. In the context of the law (The Image Rights (Bailiwick of Guernsey) Ordinance 2012, s3(1)(b) and (c)), ‘image’ is framed extremely widely and means the name of the person and includes:
“…the voice, signature, likeness, appearance, silhouette, feature, face, expressions (verbal or facial), gestures, mannerisms, and any other distinctive characteristic or personal attribute of a personage, or…
…any photograph, illustration, image, picture, moving image or electronic of other representation (‘picture’) of a personage and of no other person …”
Therefore, if the personality concerned is capable of expressing something unique by any means, it can be protected as a ‘registered image’ under the law. Moreover, as registered, protected intellectual property, a registered image (or the entire registered personality) can be sold or licensed for the authorized use by others recognizing the value that was hitherto difficult to clearly define and capture (Adrian, 2013b).
V. Conclusion: How Image Rights can fit into the Japanese Intellectual Property System
To suggest that the right of property forms part of the norms of international law seems uncontroversial. States through practices and treaties routinely recognize the property rights of their citizens as well as those of other states and their nationals: without that recognition international commerce would be impossible. The difficulties arise with regard to the nature and scope of the right. Is it a negative right (the right not to have possessions interfered with) or does it include positive elements (the right to acquire property)? The right of property can be divided into a number of different types (real, personal, equitable, tangible, intangible, documentary, non-documentary and so on) (Drahos, 1999). Although intellectual property is protected extensively by international agreements, the commercial appropriation of human indicia has never been addressed on such a global level, until now. The Guernsey Image Right Ordinance can be used as a blueprint for the protection of human indicia and can redress this gap in international law.
“One fascinating aspect of publicity rights is the idea that they actually protect privacy in the public realm; one can choose to broadcast or publicise certain elements of one’s identity, yet reserve the right to control and limit them within the scope of privacy and economic torts. Indeed, once one alienates these aspects of identity, one’s privacy in certain respects can be bought and sold as a commodity. However, a radical thought is that because the right to privacy is inalienable, it remains within the control of the individual in question.” (Anon) The right of personality or image right is a valuable property right. This form of intellectual property should be afforded protection from being misused by the media for commercial purposes as it was in the Pink Lady case. Image Rights, like other property rights, carry pecuniary value which is created by individuals in their personality by their best efforts.
“A legal tradition . . . is not a set of rules of law . . . . Rather it is a set of deeply rooted historically conditioned attitudes about the nature of law, about the role of law in society and in the polity, about the proper organization and operation of a legal system, and about the way law is or should be made, applied, studied, perfected and taught. The legal tradition relates the legal system to the culture of which it is a partial expression. It puts the legal system into cultural perspective.” (Merryman & Pérez-Perdomo, 2006) An important lesson to be learned from the Japanese legal system is that it is possible to adopt features of other legal systems and yet, by taking care, not sacrifice important values (Hahn, 1983). “Redefining, rethinking, redistributing property has always been one way in which political ideas and philosophies have made themselves concrete in the world.” (Drahos, 1999)
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