Freedom of Speech – Defamation, Sedition, etc.

What are Personality Rights?


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Personality Rights

Mains level : Read the attached story

The Delhi High Court recently passed an interim order to prevent the unlawful use of a megastar’s name, image and voice.

What did the HC say?

  • The court, through its order, restrained persons at large from infringing the personality rights of the actor.

Why are we discussing this?

  • Celebrities are protected from commercial misuse of their name and personality.
  • However, there have been instances where the consumers are misled owing to false advertisements or endorsements by such personalities.
  • Due to such cases, the Ministry of Consumer Affairs has made a notification in 2022 to keep a check on misleading adverts and endorsements of consumer products by imposing a penalty on the endorser.

What are Personality Rights?

  • Personality rights refer to the right of a person to protect his/her personality under the right to privacy or property.
  • These rights are important to celebrities as their names, photographs or even voices can easily be misused in various advertisements by different companies to boost their sales.
  • Therefore, it is necessary for renowned personalities/celebrities to register their names to save their personality rights.
  • A large list of unique personal attributes contribute to the making of a celebrity.
  • All of these attributes need to be protected, such as name, nickname, stage name, picture, likeness, image and any identifiable personal property, such as a distinctive race car.

Correlation with publicity rights

  • Personality rights are different from publicity rights.
  • Publicity rights are governed by statutes like the Trade marks Act 1999 and the Copyright Act 1957.

Types of personality rights

  • Personality rights consist of two types of rights-
  1. Right of publicity: It is the right to keep one’s image and likeness from being commercially exploited without permission or contractual compensation, which is similar (but not identical) to the use of a trademark;
  2. Right to privacy: It is the right to not have one’s personality represented publicly without permission.
  • However, under common law jurisdictions, publicity rights fall into the realm of the ‘tort of passing off’.
  • Passing off takes place when someone intentionally or unintentionally passes off their goods or services as those belonging to another party.
  • Often, this type of misrepresentation damages the goodwill of a person or business, resulting in financial or reputational damage.

Does the use of a name on the internet affect personality rights?

  • The Delhi High Court in 2011 made an observation in the case of Arun Jaitley vs Network Solutions Private Limited and Ors.
  • In this case, former finance minister filed a suit seeking permanent injunction against the defendants from misuse and immediate transfer of the domain name
  • The Court stated that the popularity or fame of individual will be no different on the internet than in reality.


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