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    Delhi High Court Passes Order Protecting Jackie Shroff’s Personality Rights, Disallows Non-Permitted Use of His Name, Voice, Dialogues

    On May 15, the Delhi High Court (HC) issued an order acknowledging the personality rights of actor Jackie Shroff, thereby granting him legal protection against non-permitted usage of his name, image, voice, likeness, and other unique aspects of his identity.

    Among at least 15 entities/individuals and John Does against whom Shroff had filed the personality rights suit on May 14, the Court found that some of the defendants have gained commercially through “unauthorised exploitation” of the actor’s name, image, voice, and other unique characteristics, thereby infringing upon his personality or publicity rights.

    About the lawsuit filed by Jackie Shroff:

    Shroff had approached the Delhi HC seeking protection against unauthorised usage of his personality traits including name, voice, image, and other attributes, by firms, social media platforms and artificial intelligence applications. The usage included the creation of offensive and defamatory content, memes, pornographic material, and unauthorised merchandise, among others.

    In his plea, the actor sought a permanent injunction restraining entities and all other persons from infringing upon his personality rights by utilising (directly or indirectly) without consent, “exploiting or misappropriating” his name, voice, image or any other attribute “exclusively identifiable” with him, for commercial and personal gain in any format or medium including artificial intelligence. Read a detailed summary of the suit here.

    What did the Court say?

    While some defendants have indicated that they will contest the allegations, the Court has restrained several others from infringing upon the actor’s personality rights. These entities include pornographic sites, social media profiles, e-commerce sites and an AI platform which deploys a chatbot that uses Shroff’s personality attributes without authorisation.

    As per the order, the Court has also directed the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) and the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) to issue necessary directions to the telecom service providers and internet service providers to block the URLs/ links containing the infringing material.

    The Court will hear the matter next on October 15, 2024.

    Not all cases lead to infringement of rights

    Interestingly, in one of the instances, the Court considered it essential to protect “artistic and economic expression” of the creator over the actor’s personality rights.

    In his petition, among a list of complaints, Shroff had also raised objections regarding a YouTube video, in which the creator had compiled several videos of the actor’s interviews. At the end of the compilation, “animated images of sunglasses/caps/cigarettes/gold chains other animated images/gifs” with the words ‘Thug Life’ mentioned on them are morphed on the actor’s face. The plea noted such photoshopped elements over the actor’s face to be derogatory in nature.

    However, on reviewing the video and studying the usage of ‘Thug Life’, the Court found that the term refers to a “determined and resilient attitude to succeed in life in spite of racism and injustice” and stated that the creator’s video could “arguably be viewed as a tribute to Mr. Shroff’s assertive demeanour”.

    The Court also noted that the format of the video, which has garnered substantial viewership, is similar to a meme, parody, or spoof and is part of a comedic genre that often “leverages the cultural resonance of public figures” for engaging content. It declined to issue an ex-parte interim injunction against the creator.

    “Restricting such creative expressions by enjoining Defendant No. 5 [the video creator] from producing similar videos or blocking these videos might have far-reaching consequences for this vibrant community. More critically, it could set a precedent that stifles freedom of expression, potentially deterring the public from exercising their right to free speech due to fear of legal repercussions,” the Court highlighted.

    The Delhi HC had previously passed an interim order prohibiting unauthorised use of actor Anil Kapoor’s name, voice, image, and other personality traits for commercial gains by various entities, including e-commerce companies, social media platforms, and the public at large. In November 2022, the Delhi HC passed a similar order restricting the use of Amitabh Bachchan’s name, image, voice or any other characteristics” without his consent.

    Also Read:

    The post Delhi High Court Passes Order Protecting Jackie Shroff’s Personality Rights, Disallows Non-Permitted Use of His Name, Voice, Dialogues appeared first on MEDIANAMA.

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