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The Delhi High Court on Wednesday restrained the misuse of the name, voice, image, likeliness or personality, including the iconic catchphrase “Jhakaas!”, of Bollywood actor Anil Kapoor for unauthorized commercial gain.
Justice Pratibha Singh of the Hon’ble High Court of Delhi recently passed an interim John Doe order preventing several social media & e-commerce platforms and other entities from selling merchandise, creating AI-generated videos and otherwise using the actor’s persona for commercial gain, thereby infringing the publicity and personality rights of the actor. In the order, unauthorised use the actor’s name, image, voice and even dialogues were barred from being used for commercial purposes. Use of AI for such commercial purposes which would violate the actor’s rights was also barred by the court.
The Bollywood actor approached the High Court seeking to restrain various entities within and beyond the borders of India from exploiting or misappropriating his unique and identifiable attributes. The actor’s counsel pointed to the unauthorised sale of merchandise, collection of fees by using his photograph as a motivational speaker, morphing his image in a derogatory manner, and selling pictures with forged autographs and the “Jhakaas!” catchphrase, among others.
The court observed that while there can be no doubt that free speech in the form of write ups, news, satire, criticism and parody which is protected, the same would be illegal when it “crosses the line” and “results in tarnishing, blackening and jeopardising individual personality rights”.
A similar order was passed by the Delhi High Court last year in Amitabh Bachchan v. Rajat Negi and Ors. dated November 25, 2022, whereby the court recognized and protected personality rights of the actor Amitabh Bachchan and granted an omnibus order restraining others from violating and commercially exploiting the actor’s personality rights. These orders intend to protect the unique personal brand elements of a person. This in turn can help public figures maintain control over their image, publicity and endorsement rights.
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