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Celebrity Rights

Celebrity is a reference to the fame and wide public recognition, a particular animal, as a direct result of the attention given by mass media. Celebrity means a famous person with lot of fame and known to be public figure. Today actors, authors, artists, politicians, models, athletes, musician, singers, television personality, well known business executives and any one who seeks to capture the public attention are all celebrities. The Indian copy right does not define the word 'celebrity' but reference can be made to the definition of performer as given under definition 2(qq). Protecting celebrity rights under intellectual property (IP) laws is a significant development in the field of Intellectual properties rights.

In recent times media has grown in importance which has resulted in the need of regulating the dealings of the media through effective regulations. The various rights of a celebrity are Personality Rights, Privacy Rights, Publicity Rights, reproduction rights, distribution rights, and lending rights. The concept of celebrity rights protected by the IP law is an important area in the field of media.

There are several ways in which the image of a celebrity can be used in advertising.For instance, sportsmen routinely endorse sports equipment or clothing. Another is non-tools Endorsements where a celebrity's image is used in connection with goods or services that are completely unrelated to his field of activity, for instance a film star endorsing a bank or a telecommunications company.

The expression celebrities is not defined in any legislation, but section 2(qq) of INDIAN COPYRIGHT ACT,1957,DEFINES performers.

“Performer includes all actor, singer, musician, dancer, acrobat, juggler, conjurer, snake, charmer, a person delivering a lecture or any other person who makes any performance.”Celebrities flaunt their popularity and make riches out of their identity. They lend their voices, faces and their names to various commercial and non commercial.

How Indian celebrities are protected under IP laws?

To protect performers by alleviating a sense of insecurity in performers due to fear of “technological unemployment” including replacement of musicians by recorded music, Controlling exploitation of performers who cannot manage the situation. The right to publicity is inheritable. Celebrity Rights are licensable for commercial benefits.

ICC Development (International) Ltd. v. ArveeEnterprises, (2003 (26) PTC 245 Del)[1] where the Delhi High Court held that the right of publicity does not extend to events and is confined to persons. For the first time Right to publicity was recognized as an independent right.

In the case Raja Rocket Books vs Radha Pocket Books[2], a popular character of childrens comic book, Nagraj the snake king was deemed to be protected under copyright law. However, no copyright is granted to the name or image of celebrity in India.

Celebrity name can be registered as a trademark?

In order to prevent others from taking such undue advantage of their goodwill and brand, there has been a growing trend amongst famous people to trademark their names. The identity of an individual refers to all distinct, recognizable elements as individual's physical appearance, image or likeness, name, voice, signature, style, photograph, gestures, recognizable attire, look and facial features. However, one needs to keep in mind that if the registered trademark remains unused for a period of five consecutive years, then the mark may be removed from the trademark register. This acts as a remedy against defensive registration.

To protect the brand value of a person trademark cannot be registered. Therefore if a celebrity is registering his/her name it should be with respect to a particular class of goods or/and services. For instance, Paris Hilton got a trademark for her name for sale of clothes and perfumes, whereas David Beckham has a trademark registration for clothing, footwear and headgear. Shah Rukh khan has filed applications to register trademark 'SRK', in almost all the 45 classes. Conventions such as Producers of Phonograms and Broadcasting Organizations, 1961 (Rome Convention), The International Convention for the Protection of performers and WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty 1996 deals with the protection of celebrity rights.

Celebrities in India have begun to take pre-emptive measures, such protective measures have greater prevalence in foreign countries like the United States. Many celebrities have already registered names as trademarks; for instance, Beyonce has got a trademark registration for her daughter's name, Blue Ivory Carter, with respect to baby products. Angelina Jolie was involved in a legal battle with fragrance designer Symine Salimpour, when the latter decided to use 'Shiloh', which is the name of Angelina's daughter, as the name of her new perfume. Kendall and Kylie Jenner too have filed trademark applications for registering their name with respect to hair accessories, clothing, and beauty products[3].Protecting Celebrity rights under IP laws is a significant development in the field of IPR.

Conclusion
Right to authorize public performances and broadcast does not exist in India. There is provision, merely, for secondary rights to prevent public performance or broadcasting or recordings made without the performers consent and to receive equitable remuneration. No protection is given against 'Substainal similarity' which is a necessary element in protection of celebrity rights.

It is only through litigation, this growing problem can be disciplined. Award of huge damages and multimillion dollar settlements may stop infringement or violation by those who have in the past failed to respect the privacy of celebrity and employers.

End-Notes:

  1. https://indiankanoon.org/doc/358048/
  2. https://indiankanoon.org/doc/1572079/
  3. https://www.lexorbis.com/can-a-celebrity-name-be-registered-as-a-trademark/

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