Katherine Heigl sues for Image Rights

By Keith Laker

Actress Katherine Heigl has decided to sue US pharmacists Duane Reade for unauthorized use of her image.  In a guest post for Forbes Magazine,  Andrew Udin has provided some insight into this decision and comments on the likelihood of success.

Udin makes two points well:  that under US law, the right to privacy is the same for celebrities as it is for anyone else and also that – in the eyes of the retailer at least – a social media presence has value.  Both points are relevant to the concept of Registered Personality as facilitated by registration on the Guernsey Image Rights Register.  The law is not predicated on privacy rights but on the more straightforward question of unauthorized economic benefit by others, using images (any images) of the registered personality.  Moreover, the law recognizes that registered personalities and their associated images have actual (or potential) value.

Doubts have been cast by some as to the usefulness of registering one’s image rights in a minor jurisdiction such as Guernsey, but the point is not so much as to whether an injunction granted in Guernsey would be easily enforced elsewhere, but much more to do with the weight of evidence demonstrating the plaintiff’s efforts to protect themselves against exactly the scenario that Katherine Heigl finds herself in.  Heigl’s case will involve the assessment of various factors including, most probably, what value might be attributed to her image.  Had she registered her personality in the only jurisdiction that currently permits this, the weight of evidence in her favour would arguably be greater – and could conceivably represent a decisive factor.

For more information on the registration of personality, visit icondia.com