The eagerly awaited image rights legislation in Guernsey is due
to come into force on 3 December 2012.
It will make Guernsey the first jurisdiction in the world to
offer registered image rights, a new form of intellectual property.
This will interest anyone currently in the public eye anywhere in
the world, or who is not yet well known but anticipates having a
high public profile in the future.
The Image Rights (Bailiwick of Guernsey) Ordinance, 2012, allows
any person, anywhere in the world, to register and protect their
personality, i.e. their name or essential brand, and any images
associated with that personality.
There is no requirement that that person should be resident or
established in Guernsey, and if they have assigned the rights to
exploit their image to a third party, that third party can apply to
register those rights.
The personality of any of the following can be registered:
joint personalities (e.g. comedy double acts)
groups (e.g. sports teams and pop groups)
fictional characters (e.g. James Bond or cartoon
The legislation specifically allows registration of the
personality and images of dead people, if they died within 100
years prior to the application - think, for example, of the
continued significance and value of Michael Jackson, Marilyn
Monroe, Elvis Presley.
Registration of a person's personality will give the person
who has registered it "image rights" in relation to that
personality. Image rights are rights to control the commercial use
of a person's identity and distinctive images, voice,
expressions, characteristics or attributes associated with that
person. Any of these aspects of a person's personality may be
registered on the public register of images in Guernsey. Specific
images need not be registered, as once the personality itself has
been registered this gives rights to control commercial use of any
images associated with the personality. However, registered images
are easier to enforce.
While the images registered will be publicly viewable on the
register, serving as notice to the public of the images the
proprietor considers as protectable, it is proposed that details of
the proprietor will not, for privacy reasons.
The legislation will also provide for moral rights, including
the right to object to derogatory treatment of the personality and
its images, which could prove useful as an alternative to costly
The Ordinance sets out appropriate exceptions to image rights,
to allow use which is in the public interest - for example for news
reporting, parody, satire, or the arts. Private, non-commercial use
of images will not constitute infringement.
A person need not be famous at the point of registration, but
will have to be well known in any part of the world at the time of
the alleged infringement. Penalties for infringement of image
rights will include damages, accounts of profits and
In these days of global mass media and the internet, these
Guernsey registered rights will be enforceable in Guernsey, but
have been designed to be fully compatible and integrated with
modern media, including broadcasting, satellite transmission, the
internet and other electronic communications.
One of the main attractions of the legislation, from a
succession planning viewpoint, is that it enables personalities to
incorporate image rights formally into their succession planning
for the first time.
A registered personality and the associated image rights are
property rights and can therefore be transferred and licensed in
the same way as other personal, movable property.
As these rights can effectively be registered and renewed in
perpetuity, they can be treated as an asset for estate planning
purposes. These image rights would then sit alongside any other
intellectual property assets and would form part of the portfolio
of rights owned by the personality or their company.
Guernsey is one of the Channel Islands situated off the coast of
northern France and is a respected offshore finance centre. It is a
dependency of the British crown but is not part of the United
Kingdom or the EU, and has its own legislature and courts. Guernsey
offers a wealth of professional expertise, experienced asset
managers, tax neutrality combined with OECD 'white list'
tax transparency, and proximity to the UK/ Europe.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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