Convergences and Development
Edited by Nari Lee, Guido Westkamp, Annette Kur and Ansgar Ohly
Chapter 13: Image rights in civil law systems: Four questions and three systems
The image right is a fascinating phenomenon at the crossroads of (semi-)IP law and several other legal domains. The fascination starts with the intriguing paradox that in a way, our 'image' simultaneously is our most personal and our most public property. It is personal as it is identified with the personality, its character and mood itself. There are few other phenomena which, to the same extent, involve and expose the personality. But at the same time, the image is our public entry par excellence. Our face is our social interface. It is the only part of our body we never cover in public, and if we do so, it is the universal sign of distancing oneself from the surrounding (social) environment. In an open society which favours freedom of the media as a window to the world, it is essential that the human image, as a prominent and integrating part of the story of social life, up to some extent is free. Sometimes the human face is the face of everything; the typeface is unable to convey the same message. But almost invariably, the human image is loaded with communicative content. Conflicts between interests based on the private characteristics and the public functions of the image are inevitable, and can easily be emotional and explosive, opposing quite different views and conceptions, principles and convictions. The legal aspects of the image right are myriad.
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