Intellectual Property (IP) has been continuously evolving. It is now not restricted to just categories like Patents, Trademark, Designs and Copyrights. Judicial activism has widened the scope of IP to cater to new forms of protection, one such addition is “Personality Rights”.
Personality Rights are made up of two kinds of rights: the Right to publicity and the Right to privacy. The Right to publicity which is usually attributed to celebrities or famous people is of great importance to the entertainment and media field. Right to Publicity means the right to control commercial exploitation of one’s successful personality and prevent others from riding on the fame associated with his/her persona. This right stems from the Right to privacy and vests only in individuals who are ‘famous’ or those who might be understood by the public as having a reputation or goodwill that is capable of being commercially exploited. A person’s persona includes his/her name, photograph, signature, voice or any other mark of identity.
For example, in the UK, when Topshop, without Rihanna’s permission, featured a photo of her taken during a video shoot in 2011, she successfully sued Topshop’s parent company Arcadia for $5 million (£3.3 million). Justice Birss, while deciding the matter held that a substantial number of buyers were likely to have been deceived into buying the T-shirt because of false belief that it had been approved by the singer. This proves that the public needs to identify or associate an identity to a person. If such an association cannot be established, the Right of publicity does not come into existence.