Celebrity Rights in India under Copyright Laws

Celebrity Rights in India Under Copyright Laws

This article on ‘Celebrity Rights in India Under Copyright Laws: All You Need to Know‘ is written by Thota Sai Srinija, an Intern at Legal Upanishad.

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“The better it is, there are best chances of focus

But, the more popular you are, more troubles you face!


The main objective of this article is to understand, explain and analyse the concept of Celebrity Rights Under the Indian Copyright Laws and it does also focus on the scope and methods of governing such issues. Although there are various laws like trademark law, Copyright law & passing off action to protect the celebrity rights, their scope has been diminished in governance due to lack of ideas to deal with modernisation and susceptibility of the above said concept. Let us focus on the areas of governance of Indian copyright laws on celebrity rights.

What are Copyright laws?

Copyright is a right provided by law to the actual owner or creator of a particular content that may be like music, story, poetry, movies or any other artistic works in order to safeguard their hard work involved to make it unique and original. The copyright laws are in the ambit of Intellectual property law. These laws ensure the quality of the content produced and also motivate the creators to produce publish the content without any agitation. The copyrights laws in India are governed by the Copyright Act, 1957.

Who are Celebrities and what are their rights?

The word celebrity comes from a Latin word ‘celebritatem’ which means ‘the condition of being famous. Any person who owns the fame, public recognition or a brand value in the society is said to be a celebrity. The rights that are provided by the law to simply the troubles faced by the celebrities and also to protect their works are termed as celebrity rights. The scope of celebrity rights is very vast. They cover the field of advertising, reproduction, distribution, leasing and lending, personality, and privacy,

Celebrity rights may be safeguarded using trademark law, copyright law and passing off action.

Celebrity Rights in India and Copyright Laws

Celebrity Rights in India under Copyright Laws in 2022
Celebrity Rights in India under Copyright Laws in 2022

The better it is, there are best chances of focus But, the more popular you are, more troubles you face! Yes, it is rightly said. Every popular person is in the spotlight and been observed keenly every moment. They must balance to be as to the expectations of the viewers and also protect their true content that has been produced.

The general difference which can be noticed between the life of a common man and a celebrity brings out the reasoning for the existence of specific rights i.e. celebrity rights to the celebrities.

The Celebrity rights broadly divided into three different categories they are as follow –

1] Privacy Rights

As the known fact that how enthusiastic and desperate media is to cover day to day updates of every celebrity’s lives. In this process there are major chances for the violation of the Right to Privacy under Article 21 of Indian Constitution which is recognized as the fundamental right of a citizen of India. This right brings out a conclusion that there must be no variation laid down between in the various categories of people in exercising the fundamental and basic rights.

2] Publicity Rights

The Hon’ble Delhi High Court, in ICC Development (International) Ltd v Arvee Enterprises, held stating on publicity rights that:

‘The right of publicity has developed from the right of privacy and can reside only in an individual or in any confirmation of an individual’s personality like his name, personality trait, signature, voice etc.  An individual may acquire the right of publicity by virtue of his association with an event, sport, movie, music etc.’

The above statement is the only existing authoritative point based on publicity rights which form a base for the concept in Indian Legal Jurisprudence. The harm that caused to the right of publicity will be violation of Articles 19 and 2l of the Constitution of India.

3] Personality and Moral Rights

A person is can be identified and featured with others by his personality hence it holds a crucial role in a person’s life. The moral and personal rights of the celebrities is been protected in the process of protection of interest of them.

The Copyright Act grants ‘writers’ special protection or ‘moral rights’ under Section 57 of Copyrights Act, 1957. This particular right is applied to the set of people fall in the definition of “authors” as defined under Section 2(d) of Copyrights Act, 1957. However, the actors are not been included in the above definition and hence they could not be entitled to the rights under Copyrights laws in India.

Copyright Act protects the interests of famous personalities by extending moral rights. In order to protect such interest of the celebrities, Section 38 of Indian Copyright Act states that the authors and the performers have the right to be given credit and  claim authorship of their work and have a negative right restraining others from causing any kind of damage to their work which consequently disrupts their reputation which is termed as “performers right”. Whereas the exclusive rights and moral rights of the performer as been laid under Section 38A and 38B respectively.


Celebrity rights is a wider concept in the field of copyrights which covers various categories of artistic works but it is insufficient and are not exclusive. There is still a scope of development of these laws to set up a strong legal framework and governance in this field. The celebrity rights are intangible property rights. Also, it is noted that these laws are very uncertain.