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HMRC internal manual

Employment Income Manual

Employment income: general: payments for “image rights”: background

What are “image rights”?

In contrast to a number of other countries, in the UK, there is no legal concept of an “image right” or “personality right” as such (referred to in this guidance as “image rights”).

What may be referred to as an “image right” is likely to be dependent on a bundle of different rights that may include, for example, contractual rights, registered trademarks, goodwill or copyright.

Protecting “image rights”

Passing-off may provide individuals with some protection as far as their reputation is concerned. In Irvine and others v Talksport, Eddie Irvine (former Formula 1 racing driver) succeeded in a passing-off action relating to a false endorsement in which he was shown in promotional literature apparently listening to Talksport Radio. Guidance on the law of passing-off can be found in the Capital Gains Manual at pages CG68410 and CG68455.

Image rights contracts

The use of “image rights” contracts is popular with sportspersons, entertainers and other celebrities.

Such a contract may seek to introduce a very wide definition of “image rights”, encompassing the use and exploitation of an individual’s name, voice, likeness, personal attributes, public appearances, together with copyrights and trademarks.