Intellectual Property

Image Rights

‘Image rights’ is a catch-all term used to refer to the various legal rights attaching a person’s:-

  • image or ‘likeness’,
  • personality;
  • name, nickname or catchphrase; and/or
  • physical nature or manner.

Essentially, anything which is sufficient to identify an individual to the public be an image right.

What makes this a legal matter is that an individual here in the UK may have the right to stop others from using his or her image rights, for example if such use is likely to cause damage to their reputation or if a third party exploits those image rights for commercial gain.

It’s not just celebrities or sports personalities that can prevent others from using their image rights. Image right protection can also extend to ordinary members of the public. For example, consider Joe Bloggs who is misquoted on Twitter by Jane Doe in a way which could cause damage to his reputation – Joe may have the right to issue court proceedings to force Jane to remove the offending Tweet, or even compensate him for any loss(es) he suffers.

There are a number of key factors to consider in each case. Of paramount importance is whether the individual in question has expressly or impliedly authorised the use of his or her image rights. It is quite usual, for example, for a recording artist to expressly grant to their record label a non-exclusive right to exploit their image rights. On the other hand, where an individual is photographed sunbathing on holiday in their private villa, they could have the legal right to stop others from publishing the photographs if clearance to do so has not been obtained.

We can advise you if :-

  • you think your image rights have been exploited in a way which has caused, or may cause, damage to your reputation, or
  • you would like to obtain clearance to use another person’s image rights.

We offer a free initial consultation and review of the issues involved before advising you on the options available and the related costs.

Our Intellectual Property Team

Matthew Miller
I have been a Partner at Bolt Burdon since 2005 and head up the firm’s Company/Commercial team. I trained at a large City firm and then worked in their Corporate Department for 4 years, before moving to Bolt Burdon at the start of 2004. Read More
T: 020 7288 4753
Timothy Lucas
I am an associate in our Company Commercial department, having joined Bolt Burdon in January 2015. Read More
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