Guernsey: Guernsey Scores A Spectacular Image Rights Goal

Last Updated: 2 April 2013
Most Read Contributor in Guernsey, November 2017

John Langlois, Chairman of Image Rights (Guernsey) Limited, says Guernsey has published the first international 'rules of the game' when it comes to image rights.

Image Rights are back in the news in a big way – hardly surprising as Guernsey has scored a spectacular goal by being the first place in the world to have a public image rights register. This is a real game-changer globally. It's as if Guernsey has published the first international "rules of the game" for the protection of your image. Players, celebrities and others who want their image protected now have the newest and best option available.

Image rights have been around for a long time but they've always been a very local affair. The UK has piecemeal protection for players wanting to protect their image as do other countries. Continental European countries provide broader protection in some ways but each in a somewhat limited manner and each constrained by their common law or civil law backgrounds. Guernsey has brought the two systems of law together to create a global standard that can be legally-recognised under either legal code. Even new terminology, like "personnage" (personality), has been incorporated to link the two systems. The evolution of image rights over the past 20 years is somewhat like the evolution of Association Football itself.

Before the formation of the Football Association each town in England had its own game which it played according to its own local rules. When a side from one town played a team in another town they had to agree on the rules of the game before the first whistle. In 1863 the FA standardised the rules for England. When England went international, by playing Scotland in 1872, the rules had to be agreed and standardized between the two nations. Ten years later in 1882 the International Football Association Board set the rules for international competitions across the world. On its formation in 1904 FIFA adopted them as its own and ever since then the IFAB, based in England, has set the international standard for the world. Someone had to come up with the equivalent for image rights - the new international 'rules of the game'. And that's what Guernsey has done.

So why now, and why Guernsey?

The "why now" is because image rights have more potential to be under attack now than at any other time, due to the World Wide Web. Not very long ago, copyright and trademark laws were enough because the illegal use of an image was reasonably easily identified and stamped on. Now, of course, the internet means that every single person has access to images with the click of a mouse, often infringing your rights. But just as the World Wide Web is a disadvantage you can turn it into a very real advantage by registering your image on a web-accessible statutory public register to assert your right to that image - a neat 21st Century solution to a 21st Century problem.

So "why Guernsey"? Guernsey has for many years been a leading offshore finance centre in the management of assets for wealthy individuals. This has included portfolios of trademarks, patents and other IP rights – usually for tax reasons. Some tax advantages available offshore even five years ago have disappeared and the concept of "offshore" has disappeared with them. The whole planet is now a digital global village, neither onshore nor offshore. Guernsey needed to adapt, which is exactly what it has done. One of its innovations has been setting up a world-class image rights regime, just like IFAB did for football in 1882. Guernsey's thinking has been ahead of the game and the island is hoping that those keen to protect their image will jump at the chance to have this additional and comprehensive level of protection.

Just as the success of every football side depends on teamwork, the same can be said for image rights. The Guernsey Intellectual Property Commercial Users Group (of which I am chairman) includes people from all the professions – accountants, lawyers, bankers, auditors, IP portfolio managers, asset managers, actuaries, patent attorneys and fiduciaries – all working together, adhering to the same professional code of conduct to ensure that their clients receive seamless first class service from this broad knowledge bank.

What's new?

Guernsey has created a brand new law – a tailor-made, bespoke solution which fits the needs of players today. There is a huge diversity of laws all over the world available to players to exploit their image rights. Some in common law countries are based on copyright laws and some on trademark laws. Others in civil law countries are based on the right to privacy. This complexity and confusion causes huge problems. Today we're living in a very different world than we were even 20 years ago. Trying to force modern-day image rights into existing laws dating back centuries is like forcing square pegs into round holes. Something had to be done. Guernsey started with a blank sheet of paper, asked the question: "What regime is needed for image rights in today's fast-moving world?" and has come up with the solution.

Why register?

The purpose of registering your personality (personnage) is to assert your right to your individual personality and with it all your distinctive characteristics such as, photographs, likenesses, characteristics, illustrations, gestures, stage names, signatures and cartoons – whatever can be exploited and used. A person should have control over the distinguishing features of his or her own personality which have distinctive value and can be exploited for that value. Registration on a public register is the most effective way of doing that - and it is not just for the famous. A young player who is not yet famous but has dreams of greatness is a perfect candidate for registration - and it is not only footballers and other sports personalities who can register their image rights – anyone can.

Detection and Enforcement

Of course if you are interested in registering your image it is important to know that the mechanisms in place, to detect illegal use of your image and the enforcement of penalties for such use, are up to scratch. Trade protection bodies like the Performing Right Society in the UK have been doing this for decades but what is needed today is an enhanced service to detect and enforce infringements of image rights across the world. This is where Guernsey has upped its game. Enforcement of image rights is not simple and it is not a developed part of law across the world but it is developing with increasing effectiveness and speed.


Guernsey's government doesn't permit the island to be used for avoiding tax that should be legitimately paid elsewhere. However, it is very much in the business of enabling personalities to arrange their affairs, including intellectual property rights, so as to legally mitigate the tax that is payable. This is particularly important when the owner of image rights earns (or may in the future earn) income from those rights in several countries. Registration of your image right in a tax-neutral jurisdiction like Guernsey makes for an ideal international tax planning arrangement. Being able to declare to the world on the web that you have registered your image, you assert your sole right to use it and it can be defended is a great start.

Image Rights (Guernsey) Limited

It is for the above reasons that I and my colleagues at Trinity Trust Company Limited ( formed Image Rights (Guernsey) Limited to provide specialist services for the registration of personalities and images and the incorporation of companies to manage image right portfolios. Each client's corporate structure is tailored to his or her own needs with a focus on preserving capital and maximising earnings.

What's really important now is to get advice from those who understand the new image rights legislation, who can talk to the registrar, get things done quickly and efficiently and offer the best wealth management services. Right now, we believe that's us. Guernsey has set the new world image rights standard and we set the standard for wealth management.

Originally published in FC Business, January 2013

For more information about Guernsey's finance industry please visit

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.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:
  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.
  • Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.
    If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here
    If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq you may opt out by clicking here

    Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

    Use of

    You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


    Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

    The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


    Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

    • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
    • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
    • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

    Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

    Information Collection and Use

    We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

    We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

    Mondaq News Alerts

    In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


    A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

    Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

    Log Files

    We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


    This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

    Surveys & Contests

    From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


    If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


    From time to time Mondaq may send you emails promoting Mondaq services including new services. You may opt out of receiving such emails by clicking below.

    *** If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of services offered by Mondaq you may opt out by clicking here .


    This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

    Correcting/Updating Personal Information

    If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

    Notification of Changes

    If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

    How to contact Mondaq

    You can contact us with comments or queries at

    If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.

    By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions