The States of Guernsey - the island's parliament - has approved the drafting of a new law that will protect image rights and sees the introduction of registrable image rights in time by the Olympic Games and the 2012/13 football transfer season.

When enacted, the legislation will see Guernsey take a world lead on the issue and provide a clear legal code for image rights, enabling effective management while also protecting the public interest, says intellectual property (IP) specialist and joint managing partner at Channel Islands law firm Collas Crill, Jason Romer.

Guernsey will be the first jurisdiction to have a registrable image right when the legislation is passed (expected in early 2012). This legislation will allow celebrities, sports professionals and teams and other media personalities to structure their image rights inGuernsey, safe in the knowledge that there is a clear legislative framework.

Mr Romer, who sits on the island's Commercial IP Steering Group and the Drafting Sub-Committee, leads the firm's team of IP specialists and is a director of Collas Crill IP, the only IP registration company linked with a law firm in theChannel Islands.

Image rights (or the 'right of publicity') are generally recognised as the right to control the commercial use of a person's identity and images associated with that person including distinctive expressions, characteristics or attributes.

The importance and value of those rights have become an increasingly controversial topic, the latest instalment being the UK debate over the role of super injunctions as public figures seek to exercise significant control over the use of their image in the media. A super-injunction stops anyone publishing information about the applicant which is said to be confidential or private - but also prevents anyone from reporting that the injunction itself even exists.

Mr Romer said: "The judiciary in the UK have called for parliament to define this type of right and to establish the parameters around the protection of an individual's image. The development of a registrable image right goes a long way to address this concern.Guernsey has been ahead of the game in this respect and the States of Guernsey, Commerce and Employment and the Intellectual Property Office should be congratulated on their vision and approach.

"The development of an image rights register will be a world first and places Guernsey in a unique position worldwide and this should bring with it additional revenue and income diversification.

"With the legislation soon on its way, now is the time to review how the legislation is likely to benefit those who want to control the way their own image is used and to begin planning for the opportunities that will arise.

Mr Romer added: "This legislation will define the rights of an individual to protect their own image and balance those against the freedom of news reporting and the public interest."

The States of Guernsey approved the drafting of the law today (30 September 2011). It is estimated that, subject to approval and consultation, the drafting time should take about four months.

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