Publicity Right, Personality Right, or Just Confusion?
Research Handbook on Intellectual Property in Media and Entertainment (Richardson and Ricketson eds. Elgar Publishing 2017)
14 Pages Posted: 14 Jul 2017
Date Written: October 28, 2016
There is little consensus internationally as to whether and how the law should respond when celebrities find themselves subjected to unwanted public discussions of their private lives in the media (increasingly on a global basis online), and when their personal attributes are referenced without their consent in certain kinds of advertising and trade. A number of commentators have characterized such intrusions on a celebrity’s personal dignity or autonomy as simply falling among the minor inconveniences of being a celebrity, insufficient to warrant legal protection given important social values such as freedom of speech and cultural pluralism. The lack of consensus is reflected in the uncertain shifting legal lines drawn around celebrity protection, especially in common law jurisdictions which, unlike many civil law jurisdictions, do not adhere to the idea of a full-scale personality right. In this chapter, we canvass the diverse devices that the common law courts have deployed to deal with the grant of celebrity rights. We note and support the messy multivalence we find recognised in common law approaches given the range of dynamic interests that are at play. Such heterogeneity of values might also be relevant to the curtailment of celebrity rights. Thus, we equally support a flexible approach to the limitations, defences and other points at which discretion may be exercised by judges to find a balance between the interests/rights that may be claimed for celebrities (human and otherwise) in controlling the uses of their personal attributes in advertising and trade, and the countervailing interests/rights that others may seek to maintain including in freedom of speech and cultural pluralism.
Keywords: publicity, fame, personality, privacy
JEL Classification: K11, K19, K33
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation