IP: Do we need an image rights registry?

A tiny island is taking the lead

The Bailiwick of Guernsey, an island 30 miles off the coast of France, is home to just 65,000 people. It is loyal to the British Crown, but is not part of the U.K. or a member of the European Union. That independence gives its legislature a degree of freedom which has allowed it to become a successful off-shore tax haven. Now, it is seeking to establish the world’s first registry of image rights.

The Image Rights (Bailiwick of Guernsey) Ordinance 2012 (the Image Rights Law) is likely to be approved by the Guernsey Parliament this summer. When in force, rights holders will be able to register their image rights in a formal, official database.

Infringement occurs if the registered image is used commercially without the proprietor’s consent, or if a similar image is used where there is likelihood of association with the registered personality. There also is a dilution offense which occurs when a person "without due cause, takes unfair advantage of, or is detrimental to, the distinctive character, repute or value of that registered personality."

There are defenses in the proposed Image Rights Law to ensure that registered images could be used where they are in the public interest, to protect the freedom of the press and for educational and private use. In particular, "acts done privately which derive no commercial or financial benefit" would generally not be infringing.

Contributing Author

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Robert Lands

Robert Lands is head of intellectual property and media at Central London law firm, Finers Stephens Innocent LLP. He specializes in intellectual property and related...

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