John Terry and image rights

John Terry found himself in the news once again but this time he is an innocent bystander. A company in India has been threatened with legal proceedings based on an authorised image on a cigarette packet with the words ‘smoking kills’. You can clearly see Mr Terry in the image. Mr Terry’s spokesman said:

“It’s been brought to our attention that an image of our client has been used on some cigarette packaging without our consent or knowledge. We’ve now instructed our legal team to investigate this matter.”

KS Dhatwalia, additional secretary of the Directorate of Visual Publicity, was quoted in the Indian Express as saying:”We sent the creative to the health ministry and they then cleared it and circulated it. But how Terry’s picture got to be used is not clear.”

But what will they investigate?

One explanation was that the image was copied. If so, the author of the image ie usually the person who takes the image would have a claim for copyright infringement. Mr Terry could bring a claim for copyright infringement in India and in those jurisdictions that continue to offer for sale the blurred image.

Another course of action would be for Mr Terry to bring a claim for passing off or the equivalent in India for passing off his likeness as implying that he had authorised the image which he had not.

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