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  • Key Takeaways
  • Introduction
  • Celebrity Rights
  1. Personality Rights
  2. Privacy Rights
  3. Publicity Rights
  • The need to protect their rights
  • Protection of Celebrity Rights
  1. Trademark
  2. Copyright
  3. Passing off Action
  • Conclusion


  • The Oxford definition of Celebrity is “A famous person, especially in entertainment or sport.”
  • We must never lose sight of the fact that every famous person, at their core, is a person who aspires to live a normal life.
  • Now famous people can assert contradictory rights like the right to privacy and the right to fame.
  • A celebrity carries enormous value that can be transferred or licenced for profit.
  • Sketches, drawings, and other types of artistic work are protected by the Indian Copyright Act, 1957.


The Oxford definition of Celebrity is “A famous person, especially in entertainment or sport.”

An individual may get this by birth, his or her abilities, or intelligence. The word is derived from the Latin word "celebritatem," which refers to the state of fame.

Being a celebrity essentially means that you are continuously scrutinised by the public, who assesses your every action to determine whether or not your personal and professional lives are compatible. However, we must never lose sight of the fact that every famous person, at their core, is a person who aspires to live a normal life.These celebrity rights are what draw the line that determines how far one can interfere in their lives. In other words, it gives the celebrity a small cushion so they can relax and take it easy.

Celebrity Rights can be classified under three different categories:

1. Personality Rights

One way for people to recognise one another is through personality. From Salman Khan's powerful and authoritarian attitude to Shahrukh Khan's DDLJ posture, Sushmita Sen's modesty, and Amitabh Bachchan's well-known voice, they have all cultivated an image of themselves and the behaviour that is required in society. Celebrities have the right to have their distinctive personalities protected from unfair imitation or usage since they have worked hard and devoted themselves to their professions for a long time.

Tolley v J S Fry and Sons Ltd, 1931 AC 333

Using an image of a well-known amateur golfer to promote Cadbury chocolates sparked outrage. Tolley claimed that the defendants had taken advantage of his status as an amateur golfer by portraying him as having agreed to appear in the advertisement in exchange for money or other benefits. The court decided that the defendant's actions could constitute libel and awarded damages. Yet things have significantly altered, and now famous people assert contradictory rights like the right to privacy and the right to fame.

2. Privacy Rights

It's the fundamental idea of individual freedom expanded to encompass everyone's right "to be left alone." In general, people have a tendency to humanise celebrities and develop a curiousity about every intimate detail of their lives. Celebrities, on the other hand, make an effort to control their personal information because it could expose them to ridicule or embarrassment, which would leave them feeling insecure.

Barber v Times Inc348 Mo. 1199, 159 S.W.2d 29

A photographer took pictures of Dorothy Barber during her delivery. Ms Barber filed a suit of ‘invasion of privacy against Time Inc for unauthorized and forceful entry into her hospital room and for photographing her despite her protests. Ms Barber was successful in her suit and the court while awarding damages of US$ 3000 opined

3. Publicity Rights

This right, which is also sometimes referred to as a "merchandising right," allows one to profit financially on the renown and notoriety of another person. It is required to prove that celebrity is a type of commodity in order to assert this privilege. Therefore, it would be considered unfair trade conduct, misappropriation of intellectual property, or an act of passing off if someone used the fame of a celebrity to promote their wares.


The identity of a celebrity carries enormous value and can be transferred or licenced for profit. As a result, the celebrity has a stake that might be safeguarded from their identify being used for commercial gain without their consent. Throughout their lives, celebrities have the only legal authority to manage and profit from the commercial use of their names and personas. Celebrity endorsement is a widespread business technique that generates substantial cash for celebrities. Additionally, the privilege of publicity is transferable. The popularity a celebrity acquired during his or her lifetime can benefit the celebrity's descendants.

A star works very hard and takes great effort in developing their persona. A personality is associated with many moral and emotional values. These personality rights are frequently seen being connected to goods or activities, sometimes even against people's will. Celebrity personality rights must be upheld in these circumstances.

People take use of the fact that celebrities are well-known public figures who draw crowds to their benefit. The public's curiosity might result in situations where the "paparazzi" leak information about these celebrities' private lives, necessitating the protection of their privacy rights.

Protection of Celebrity Rights

Celebrity rights may be protected using trademark law, copyright law and passing off action.


In terms of celebrity rights, trademark registration has two important implications. First of all, the trademarking of any component of a celebrity's persona indicates that the celebrity is amenable to the approved assignment or licencing of their persona for commercial purposes in the category of goods and services for which registration has been requested. Second, the celebrity gains the ability to prevent illegal usage of certain facets of their personality. Trademark registration is distinctive in that it offers a potential kind of protection for celebrity personalities, unlike legal action under the tort of passing off or the Trade Practices Act of 1974.

A limited amount of trademark law protection may be available in India for public figures and business partners. Any "sign capable of distinguishing goods and services of one person from another, any word (including human names), pattern, numeral and shape of items or their packaging" may be registered as a trademark, according to Section 2(1) of the Indian Trade Marks Act, 2000. Film names, characters, and titles enjoy protection from courts in India under trademark rules. Character merchandising was the subject of the country's first character merchandising case, Star India Private Limited v. Leo Burnett India (Pvt) Ltd15, although Indian law is still developing in this area.


Sketches, drawings, and other types of artistic work are protected by the Indian Copyright Act, 1957. According to Section 14 of the Act, the work may be reproduced in any medium, including the conversion of two-dimensional works into three-dimensional works and vice versa. The courts have expanded this protection to include fictional characters that are considered works of art. In the court case

Raja Pocket Books v. Radha Pocket Books1997 PTC (17)

It was decided that the well-known children's comic book character Nagraj-the Snake King was covered by copyright laws. However, neither the celebrity's name nor image are protected by copyright in India.

Passing off Action

The action of passing off is relevant in cases of personality merchandising where a person’s name, likeness or performance characteristics are misused.

A passing off action, in general, serves as compensation for damage to a person's goodwill or reputation brought on by a third party's deceptive attempt to pass off his goods or business as belonging to another. Any improper use of a celebrity's "goodwill" or "fame" by implying that the celebrity endorses items can be considered passing off. Similar to passing off, "wrongful appropriation of personality" may involve a celebrity who has a proprietary interest in the exclusive sale of his personality for financial gain. Only when a person or a character has independently gained public awareness does Indian law recognise personality rights.


Like everyone else, celebrities have rights to privacy, notoriety, and individuality, all of which should be upheld to prevent the appropriation of their works, names, and likeness. In accordance with trademark, copyright, handing off, and anti-cybersquatting laws, celebrity rights are a special sort of rights that can be protected in a number of different ways. In addition to statute law, countries have begun to protect certain rights through court decisions in situations where the exact law does not apply. Celebrity rights are becoming a more defined field. The following strategies can be used to protect celebrity rights:

Learn the practical aspects of CrPC HERE, CPC HERE, IPC HERE, Evidence Act HERE, Family Laws HERE, DV Act HERE

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