Image rights—protection, exploitation and taxation
Produced in partnership with Alex Kelham and JJ Shaw of Lewis Silkin
Image rights—protection, exploitation and taxation

The following IP guidance note Produced in partnership with Alex Kelham and JJ Shaw of Lewis Silkin provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Image rights—protection, exploitation and taxation
  • What are image rights?
  • How are image rights protected in the UK?
  • Exploitation of image rights
  • Taxation of image rights

As of exit day (31 January 2020) the UK is no longer an EU Member State. However, in accordance with the Withdrawal Agreement, the UK has entered an implementation period, during which it continues to be subject to EU law. This has an impact on this Practice Note. For further guidance, see Practice Note: Brexit—IP rights.

This Practice Note focuses on the commercial protection, exploitation and taxation of image rights in the UK. While it covers some laws which can be employed to protect an individual’s privacy (including breach of confidence, data protection, and defamation), it does so within the context of commercial exploitation and protection of a celebrity’s image. For detailed guidance on misuse of private information, see Practice Note: Privacy law—misuse of private information.

Famous sportspeople, entertainers and other celebrities derive substantial income from allowing themselves to be commercially associated with brands. It is big business, very big business, and because of this, celebrities and athletes are faced with three very different problems.

Firstly, how to stop brands from linking themselves with the celebrity without paying a licence fee. Secondly, how to derive the most commercial income from exploitation of their image rights while maintaining control, exclusivity and value. And thirdly, how to ensure that the income is taxed fairly.

What are image rights?

The term ‘image rights’ is used to