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HomeNewsDelhi HC restrains people from using Amitabh Bachchan's name, pic, voice

Delhi HC restrains people from using Amitabh Bachchan’s name, pic, voice

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The on Friday restrained any third party from using actor Amitabh Bachchan’s name, photo or voice without his permission.


The court said that Bachchan’s celebrity status is being used by other parties without his permission and granted an injunction in favour of the 80-year-old actor. It asked the authorities and telecom service providers to note its order passed based on a plea filed by the actor.


Bachchan’s plea sought a direction to the government telecommunications department and the electronics and information technology ministry to require internet service providers to take down a list of links and websites infringing on his rights.


Justice Navin Chawla said that it is indisputable that the actor is well-known and is represented in . It noted that the actor is aggrieved by defendants using his celebrity status to promote their goods and services without his permission.


“Having considered the plaint, I am of the opinion that a prima facie case is made out and the balance of convenience also lies in his (Bachchan’s) favour,” Chawla said. Bachchan is likely to suffer irreparable loss to his reputation if such an order is not passed, he said.


Senior advocate Harish Salve, appearing for Bachchan, gave some examples of how the actor’s name is misused. “There are illegal and misleading lotteries, and lucky draws which are being run under the name of . Someone is making t-shirts with his face on them. Someone is selling his poster. Someone has gone and registered a domain name, amitabhbachchan.com,” he said.


There have been multiple such instances of infringement of the personality rights of famous persons in India, in which Courts have time and again upheld the vitality of protection of celebrity status. “This order in favour of Mr Bachchan is a welcome move in recognising and controlling unlawful exploitation of his personality,” said Safir Anand, senior partner at Anand and Anand.


The evergreen actor, Shivaji Rao Gaikwad (famously known as Rajnikanth) received a favourable order from the Hon’ble Madras High Court in a case of infringement of celebrity rights, in which his alias name was used without his consent in the title of a film ‘Main Hoon Rajinikanth’. The Court upheld the importance of protecting pseudonyms as a part of personality rights.


“Additionally, in a suit initiated by Arun Jaitley, he successfully received an injunction order against a domain name (www.arunjaitley.com) which was using his name, on the grounds of misuse of his well-known status,” Anand added.


Bachchan approached the High Court seeking protection of his name, image, voice, or physical attributes. He sought a restraining order against book publishers, T-shirt vendors, and mobile applications running lotteries and associating themselves with Kaun Banega Crorepati (KBC), a TV quiz show the actor hosts.


He argued that he has built a brand of himself that the public associates with “trust” and “quality”.


Siddharth Mahajan, Partner at Athena Legal, said there is no specific law in India that exclusively protects personality rights. “Petitioners usually rely on Article 21 that protects the individual right to privacy and publicity as part of the right to life and then performers can get protection under the performer’s rights under the Copyright Act. A name or likeness can also be protected under trademark law. So a combination of these laws protect personality rights in India,” he said.


Justice K. S. Puttaswamy (retd.) versus Union of India was perhaps the case that recognised personality rights as constitutional. In thiscase, it was observed that every individual should have the right to be able to exercise control over his/her own life and image as portrayed to the world and to control the commercial use of his/her identity.

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