The right of publicity is the right of a person to control the commercial use of their identity, or in other words, the right to prevent others from using their image, name, or other aspects of their identity for commercial purposes without their consent. Although the right of publicity is not codified in India, it has been recognized and also enforced by Indian courts in a number of cases. While copyright law provides the photographer ownership of the photograph (unless shot under a contract), the right of publicity gives the subject of the photograph authority over its economic use. This means that, while a paparazzi photographer holds the rights to the images they capture, they cannot commercially exploit them (by selling them for brand promotion, for example) without the subject’s permission. This does not, however, preclude them from licensing/selling ‘newsworthy’ images to media outlets in light of the fundamental right to free expression (Indu Jain case). However, as the right of publicity doesn’t encompass the positive right to publish a work (based on one’s identity) without its copyright owner’s permission, unfortunately, an argument based on that also doesn’t allow the celebrities to publish paparazzi photos of themselves on social media without the photographer’s consent/best patent lawyers in Delhi.


Currently, in the absence of a court precedent on this matter owing to celebrities choosing to settle the disputes with the photographers to avoid bad publicity, the issue still remains unsettled per se. From a purely legal perspective, such usage by celebrities does seem to neatly fit into the four corners of a copyright violation; but some may ask if such a conclusion is fair/copyright registration lawyers in Delhi.

Copyright was created to stimulate innovation by allowing the author of a work the exclusive right to economically exploit the work. To be honest, paparazzi images are indeed valuable because of their famous subjects. However, the subject should not be allowed to share the image on social media in order to acquire popularity and publicity at the expense of the shot losing its uniqueness and market worth (licensing options, etc.).

Particularly when a celebrity uses such an image for a clear commercial purpose (as Ariana Grande did to promote her album/merchandise brand), the usage must constitute copyright infringement, and monetary damages must be given. In an age when celebrities may make millions off social media posts, it is critical that the courts take these infractions seriously/Design registration lawyers in Delhi.