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Personality Rights


The Delhi High Court has issued an interim order prohibiting the unauthorised use of Bollywood star Amitabh Bachchan’s name, image, and voice, which could violate the actor’s personality rights.


GS Paper 4: Ethics And Integrity

Mains Question

How do personality rights protect celebrities? Elaborate your answer with ethical concerns related with them. (150 words)

Personality rights include:

A long list of distinguishing personal characteristics (name, nickname, stage name, picture, likeness, image, and any identifiable personal property) that contribute to the creation of a celebrity must be safeguarded.

Concerning personal rights

  • It refers to a person’s right to protect his or her personality under the right to privacy or property.
  • These rights are important to celebrities because their names, photographs, and even voices can be easily misappropriated in various advertisements by various companies in order to boost their sales.
  • Personality rights are divided into two categories:
  • The right to privacy, or the right to prevent one’s image and likeness from being exploited commercially without permission. It is similar to (but not the same as) using a trademark.
  • The right to privacy, or the right not to have one’s personality publicly represented without permission.
  • Constitutional or legal recognition

Publicity rights in India are governed by statutes such as the Trademarks Act 1999 and the Copyright Act 1957.

  • Personality rights were elevated to the status of constitutional rights with the 2017 judgement (Justice K. S. Puttaswamy (Retd.) v. Union of India).
  • According to Article 21 of the Indian Constitution, the right to privacy is a fundamental right derived from the right to life and personal liberty.
  • The court ruled that an individual has the right to prevent others from using his or her image, name, and other aspects of his or her personal life and identity for commercial purposes without his or her permission.

Other Supreme Court decisions

  • Shivaji Rao Gaikwad (aka Rajinikanth) vs. Varsha Despite the fact that no statute in India defines the personality right, Indian courts have recognised it in a number of judgments.
  • Arvee Enterprises vs. ICC Development (International) Ltd.: The right to publicity evolved from the right to privacy, and any attempt to deny this right to individuals would be a violation of Articles 19 and 21 of the Indian Constitution.

Personal privacy on the internet

  • The Delhi High Court (in Arun Jaitley vs Network Solutions Pvt Ltd) stated in 2011 that an individual’s popularity or fame will be no different on the internet than in reality.
  • Name has become a well-known personal mark under trademark law due to its unusual nature/distinctive character, combined with its increased popularity.

Consumer rights vs. personal rights

  • While celebrities are protected from commercial misuse of their names and personalities, there have been cases where consumers have been misled as a result of false advertisements or endorsements by such celebrities.
  • Due to such cases, the Ministry of Consumer Affairs issued a notification titled Guidelines on Prevention of Misleading Advertisements and Endorsements for Misleading Advertisements, 2022, in order to keep a check on misleading consumer product advertisements by imposing a penalty on the endorser.

March 2024