Call Us Now

+91 9606900005 / 04

For Enquiry

Personality Rights and Their Protection


Recently, Hollywood Actress Scarlett Johansson claimed that the GPT-4o’s voice, sounds very similar to her own. She has accused OpenAI of using her voice without permission despite previously declining licensing requests from CEO Sam Altman.


GS: Polity and Governance

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Background: Personality Rights and Their Protection
  2. Personality Rights in India
  3. Personal Rights vs. Consumer Rights

Background: Personality Rights and Their Protection

  • Recent Unveiling: OpenAI introduced its latest AI model, GPT-4o, which includes improvements on existing ChatGPT features.
  • Voice Mode Feature: Allows users to have voice conversations with the AI chatbot, offering a choice of five different voices.
  • Incident: Scarlett Johansson alleged that one of these voices, named ‘Sky’, was copying her voice.
OpenAI’s Response:
  • Paused the availability of Sky.
  • Clarified that Sky’s voice was not Johansson’s but another voice actor’s and was never intended to resemble hers.
What are Personality Rights?
  • Definition: Name, voice, signature, images, or any other features easily identified by the public as markers of a celebrity’s personality, loosely referred to as personality rights.
  • Examples: Poses, mannerisms, or any aspects of their personality.
  • Commercial Use: Many celebrities register certain aspects as trademarks to use them commercially, e.g., Usain Bolt’s “bolting” or lightning pose is a registered trademark.
  • Purpose: Ensures that only the owner or creator of these distinct features can derive any commercial benefit from them.
Categories of Personality Rights

Right of Publicity:

  • The right to keep one’s image and likeness from being commercially exploited without permission.
  • Similar (but not identical) to the use of a trademark.

Right to Privacy:

  • The right not to have one’s personality represented publicly without permission.

Personality Rights in India

Legal/Constitutional Basis
  • Absence in Statutes: Personality rights or their protection are not expressly mentioned in any statute in India.
  • Rights to Privacy and Property: These rights are generally traced to fall under the right to privacy and the right to property.
  • Interim orders have been passed by the Delhi High Court and the Madras High Court, indicating the nascent stage of this law in India.
Governance by Statutes

Relevant Laws:

  • Trademarks Act 1999
  • Copyright Act 1957
2017 Judgment (Justice K. S. Puttaswamy (Retd.) v. Union of India):
  • Elevated personality rights to the status of constitutional rights.
  • Recognized the right to privacy as a fundamental right derived from the right to life and personal liberty (Article 21 of the Indian Constitution).
  • Allowed individuals to prevent others from using their image, name, and other personal aspects for commercial purposes without consent.
Other Supreme Court Judgments

Shivaji Rao Gaikwad (aka Rajinikanth) v. Varsha Production:

  • Courts in India have recognized personality rights through various judgments, despite the absence of a statutory definition.

ICC Development (International) Ltd. vs. Arvee Enterprises:

  • The right of publicity has evolved from the right of privacy.
  • Any effort to take away this right would violate Articles 19 and 21 of the Indian Constitution.

Personality Rights on the Internet:

  • Delhi High Court (Arun Jaitley vs. Network Solutions Pvt Ltd, 2011): Stated that the popularity or fame of individuals on the internet is no different than in reality.
  • Names with peculiar/distinctive characters, coupled with gained popularity, have become well-known personal marks under trademark law.

Personal Rights vs. Consumer Rights

  • Protection Against Commercial Misuse: Celebrities are protected from the commercial misuse of their name and personality.
  • False Advertisements: Instances of misleading advertisements or endorsements by celebrities have led to consumer protection measures.
  • Ministry of Consumer Affairs Notification (2022): Issued Guidelines on Prevention of Misleading Advertisements and Endorsements for Misleading Advertisements.
    • Imposes penalties on endorsers for misleading consumer products advertisements.
Recent Examples from India

Anil Kapoor (September 2023):

  • Delhi High Court passed an interim order protecting his personality rights.
  • Sought to restrain the use of his name, acronym AK, voice, image, and characters (e.g., Lakhan, Mr. India, Majnu Bhai, Nayak) without his consent.

Jackie Shroff (May 2024):

  • Delhi High Court protected his personality and publicity rights.
  • Restrained various e-commerce stores, AI chatbots, etc., from misusing his name, image, voice, and likeness without consent.

-Source: Indian Express


June 2024