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Limitations of Autonomy of the Will in Conventions of Exploitation of Personality Rights


In the matter of license agreements of personality rights, an analysis of the legislation and case law of more than 20 countries around the world shows a strong tendency to protect persons against themselves, in order to avoid conventions that might dispossess them of their personality rights. Indeed, personality rights are inalienable, since their economic and moral dimensions are strongly intertwined. One of the most important limitations of autonomy of the will lies in the specialty principle. At the very least, this means that personality rights license agreements are interpreted in a restrictive manner. However, some countries have a much more demanding way to see the specialty principle, by requiring the convention to be very narrowly delimited in its scope, in order to be valid. Therefore, the nature of the licensed data, the purpose of the license, the mediums, the duration, and the geographical scope must be narrowly and precisely defined within the agreement. Another limitation of autonomy of the will lies in the need to give the licensor financial compensation. Although the clauses concerning royalties have only rarely been exposed to judicial scrutiny, it seems that, at least in some countries, a minimum financial compensation should be paid for the rights that have been licensed. Nevertheless, this royalty should not necessarily be proportional to the profits generated.

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  1. 1.

    Ulpien, D. “nulla iniuria est, quae in volentem fiat”.

  2. 2.

    McCarthy (2013). In the United States, the right of publicity is not federal law and therefore slightly varies from state to state.

  3. 3.

    For an explanation of this monist theory of personality rights, where commercial and moral aspects are totally intertwined, which explains the regime of their license agreements, see our thesis, “La personnalité humaine comme élément du patrimoine” (LGDJ, Paris, to be published).

  4. 4.

    See, even in the United States, where the right of publicity has traditionally been considered as assignable, Rothman (2012).

  5. 5.

    In Spain, Martín Muñoz (2001, p. 1741), esteems that “no es razonable admitir declaraciones que comprometen la imagen sin límite. See contra, a few years ago the case where the French Supreme Court refused, on grounds of autonomy of the will of the parties and of the general rules of contract law, to consider as voidable the very extensive and near-perpetual license to image rights of a photo model, a license that was moreover granted for a ridiculously low royalty (French Supreme Court first civil chamber, 28 January 2010, Virginie Pauc v. Photoalto (case No. 08-70.248)). In the United States, see notably the very broad licenses concluded between the National Collegiate Athletic Association and student athletes, and the class actions that have been filed; see e.g. In re NCAA Student-Athlete Name and Likeness Licensing Litigation, 724 F3d 1268 (9th Cir. 2013).

  6. 6.

    See however T. Hassler, “Rédaction des clauses de cession de droit à l’image: vers plus d’autonomie de la volonté ?”, 2010/59 Revue Lamy Droit de l’Immatériel No. 1950, in fine, who, after regretting that the gap between author’s right and copyright is narrowing, esteems henceforth that “il serait paradoxal de surprotéger les sujets de contrats d’image par rapport aux auteurs”. Not only do we think that the protection of personality rights should not be aligned on the lowest level of protection for moral interests, but we are definitely not convinced that the moral right of a blogger on his tweets should be deemed considerably more important and worth of protection than the persons themselves, in their intimacy, through their image, voice, or privacy.

  7. 7.

    See, recently, in France, French Supreme Court second civil chamber, 25 April 2013 (case No. 11-26.323), 2013 JCP G. note 1054, T. Gisclard.

  8. 8.

    Rothman (2012).

  9. 9.

    There has been much controversy about the legal nature of that consent: in French law, see Ancel (2003, p. 257); Kayser (1995, No. 136). In German law: Helle (1991, p. 101 et seq.). In Switzerland, Tercier (1983, No. 622); and Haas (2007, p. 53 et seq.).

  10. 10.

    Cf. Nerson (1939, p. 429): “la volonté tend à n’être plus créatrice autonome d’obligations à la charge des contractants, mais à placer seulement ceux-ci dans un statut déterminé”.

  11. 11.

    In this sense, Lucas (2012, No. 1344).

  12. 12.

    See Gisclard (2014), for the application of the law of the domicile of the person whose personality is exploited.

  13. 13.

    In this sense, Azzi (2005, No. 631).

  14. 14.

    See, for an application in the matter of the right of publicity, Factors, Etc., Inc. v. Pro Arts, Inc., 652 F.2d 278, 281 (2nd Cir., 1980). See also McCarthy (2013, Sec. 10:79).

  15. 15.

    See e.g., recently in France, French Supreme Court second civil chamber, 25 April 2013 (case No. 11-26.323), 2013 JCP G. note 1054, T. Gisclard. In that case, the rock star Johnny Halliday did not even pose for the licensee, who was only given a photograph previously used for the cover of one of his albums. The Court however considered this license as an employment contract.

  16. 16.

    See Luciani (1996, No. 279 et seq.); and Lucas-Schloetter (2002, No. 848).

  17. 17.

    Paris Court of Appeal, 20 December 1976, Bong Watase, 1978 Recueil Dalloz (D.). 373, note E. Agostini.

  18. 18.

    Cf. with author’s rights: Gautier (2012, No. 466).

  19. 19.

    Goubeaux (1989, p. 323): “les contrats relatifs à la publication de l’effigie d’une personne s’interprètent de façon stricte”; also Fougerol (1913, p. 94), Lindon (1974, No. 65), Ravanas (1978, No. 287), and J.-C. Saint-Pau, “Le droit au respect de la vie privée – Régime substantiel”, p. 1255, in Saint-Pau et al. (2013). See however Ancel (1978, p. 160), who does not see any derogation to common principles. J. Hauser remarked that the principle of restrictive interpretation of conventions relative to personality rights was a particular application of Art. 1163 of the Civil Code, but with a superior scope, since it relates to fundamental rights: 2000 Revue Trimestrielle de Droit Civil (RTDCiv.) 801.

  20. 20.

    According to Stoufflet (1957, No. 32), “il convient d’interpréter [le contrat] restrictivement, en faveur de la personne dont l’image en est l’objet”, since “les actes portant sur le [droit patrimonial] rejaillissent sur le [droit extrapatrimonial]”. For Caron (2005, p. 102): “l’interprétation du contrat doit toujours se faire en faveur de l’individu qui consent à ce que son cocontractant exploite son image”.

  21. 21.

    In France, Seine Civil Court, 24 March 1937, 1937 Gazette du Palais 2, 154; Marseille District Court, 11 October 2002, Légipresse (LP) 2003, case No. 198-09. In Germany, Hamburg Court of Appeal, 11 June 1998, 3 U 284/97, 1999 Archiv für Presserecht (AfP) 486. Also in Belgium, regarding a photo model: Brussels District Court, 26 June 2006, 2006 Auteurs & Media (A&M) 496. In Spain, STS 3 November 1988. In Italy, Rome District Court, 2 November 1994, 1995 Diritto dell’Informazione e dell’informatica (Dir. Inf.) 367. In Argentina, National Court of Appeal, 9 December 1999, L.6685, Producciones Ricardo Piñero S.A. v. Finesse. In the United States, Barrows v. Rozansky, 489 N.Y.S.2d 481, 485 (1st Dept. 1985).

  22. 22.

    In Italy, Supreme Court, Sez. III, 10 June 1997, case No. 5175, 1998 Diritto d’Autore (Dir. Aut.) 500. In France, regarding Catherine Deneuve, Paris Court of Appeal, 14 May 1975, 1976 Recueil Dalloz (D.) 291, and French Supreme Court second civil chamber, 17 March 1977, 1997 D. I.R. 316. A corollary is that past tolerance cannot be considered as consent: see, regarding Gunther Sachs, French Supreme Court second civil chamber, 6 January 1971, 1971 La Semaine Juridique édition générale (JCP G.) II, 16723.

  23. 23.

    In New York, Stephano v. News Group Publications, Inc., 474 N.E.2d 580 (1984): “where the written consent to use the plaintiff’s name or picture for advertising or trade purposes has expired or the defendant has otherwise exceeded the limitations of the consent, the plaintiff may seek damages or other relief under the [NY] statute, even though he might properly sue for breach of contract”. See also, Schoeman v. Agon Sports, LLC, 816 N.Y.S.2d 701 (Sup. 2006). In Japan, Kunihiro Fujioka v. K.K. Danshi Senka Paris, Toyama District Court, 31 October 1986, 1218 Hanrei Jiho 128. In Australia, Wickham v. Associated Pool Builders Pty Ltd, [1988] FCA 336.

  24. 24.

    Brussels Court of Appeal, 12 November 1998, A&M 1999, 361; Brussels District Court for Civil Matters, 21 November 2006, 2007 A&M 284; Leleu (2010, No. 151); Isgour and Vinçotte (1998, No. 102 et seq.).

  25. 25.

    For a still photograph licensed only for advertising the movie: Rome Court of Appeal, 8 September 1986, 1987 Dir. Aut. 505. See also Resta (2005, p. 292).

  26. 26.

    Martín Muñoz (2001, p. 1740), Clavería Gosálbez (1994, p. 56).

  27. 27.

    Jeandin (2010, No. 74): “le consentement donné pour une atteinte déterminée ne saurait valoir tacitement pour des atteintes ultérieures (du même type ou non, ainsi l’utilisation d’une photo)”; Tercier (1983, No. 636): “le consentement ne vaut toutefois que dans la mesure où il couvre l’atteinte qui est portée par l’auteur”.

  28. 28.

    German Federal Supreme Court, 28 September 2004, VI ZR 305/03, 2005 GRUR 74, Charlotte Casiraghi.

  29. 29.

    T. Arr. Luxembourg, 2 June 1976, Pasicrisie No. 23, p. 553.

  30. 30.

    Gavella (2006, p. 126).

  31. 31.

    Jugastru (2008, p. 21).

  32. 32.

    SA Krakow, 19 December 2001, I ACa 957/01, TPP 3/2002, p. 107, quoted by T. Targosz, in Götting, Schertz and Seitz (2008, Sec. 66.47). According to Grzeszak (2000, p. 356): “la jurisprudence, soutenue en cela unanimement par la doctrine, propose une interprétation stricte des autorisations qui doit prendre en considération toutes les circonstances”.

  33. 33.

    Toshiyuki Kimoto v. Sanii Pet K.K., Tokyo District Court, 29 August 1989, 8 Saishin chosakuken kankei hanrei shû 406.

  34. 34.

    Hye-Suk Hahn v. Lucky Geumsung Co., Seoul High Court, 23 January 1989, 88 Na 38770.

  35. 35.

    Wickham v. Associated Pool Builders Pty Ltd, [1988] FCA 336.

  36. 36.

    Advertising Code (Law of 25 October 2001), Art. 69: “Toute personne photographiée peut s’opposer à la reproduction ou à l’exposition de son image, toutes les fois que son consentement n’a pas été sollicité”, and 70 al. 1: “L’autorisation de reproduction d’une photographie doit s’attacher à une utilisation précise et ne s’étend pas à des buts différents, sauf convention contraire”.

  37. 37.

    National Court of Appeal, 9 December 1999, L.6685, Producciones Ricardo Piñero S.A. v. Finesse.

  38. 38.

    Court of Appeal, 6th Chamber, 5 December 1997, 117 Jurisprudencia Uruguaya 305 (1998), quoted by Lamas (2004, p. 220).

  39. 39.

    Québec Superior Court, District of Laval, 11 July 2011, Larente v. 9140-9599 Québec Inc., 2011 QCCS 3430.

  40. 40.

    Brinkley v. Casablancas, 438 N.Y.S.2d 1004 (1st Dept. 1981).

  41. 41.

    Brinkley v. Casablancas, 438 N.Y.S.2d 1004, 1009 (1st Dept. 1981): “plaintiff’s previous written consent to the use of other photographs of herself does not constitute implied authorization for the use of the photograph involved here”.

  42. 42.

    In that sense, implicitly, see Dzurenko v. Jordache, Inc., 451 N.E.2d 477 (N.Y. 1983).

  43. 43.

    Rome District Court, 7 October 1988, Dir. Inf. 1989, 172.

  44. 44.

    Brussels District Court for Commercial Matters, 24 February 1995, 1995 Ingénieur-Conseil 333.

  45. 45.

    French Supreme Court first civil chamber, 20 March 2007 (case No. 06-10.305), Céline Dubois c. Bettina Rheims, LP 2007.

  46. 46.

    Marino (2009, No. 1774): “Les juges peuvent annuler une clause trop large”. For Caron (2005, p. 103), “une clause telle que ‘la personne cède ses droits sur son image pour toute utilisation par n’importe quel mode d’exploitation’ devrait être annulée car sa généralité la rendrait inopérante”. Also in droit d’auteur, Paris Court of Appeal, 28 November 1984, D. 1985, I.R. 316, where the contract was voided since its duration was not specified. In Switzerland, see Bucher (2009, No. 446): “un engagement excessif au sens de l’article 27 est frappé de nullité absolue”. See however Italian Supreme Court, Sez. I, 17 February 2004, case No. 3014, which required a limitation of consent, but nevertheless overruled the decision of the Rome Court of Appeal that clearly stated that an unlimited license agreement would be void.

  47. 47.

    French Supreme Court first civil chamber, 20 March 2007 (case No. 06-10.305), Céline Dubois v. Bettina Rheims, 2007 LP No. 242-07.

  48. 48.

    Paris District Court, 17 September 2004, Inès de la Fressange, 2004 JCP G. II, 10182: “attendu que si l’autorisation d’exploitation de l’image peut faire l’objet d’un contrat, c’est à la condition d’être limitée dans toutes ses modalités, en l’espècesans limite que ce soit dans sa durée ou son étendue géographique”, “cette clause est donc illicite et emporte la nullité de la cession du droit à l’image dans son ensemble”.

  49. 49.

    French Supreme Court first civil chamber, 30 May 2000 (case No. 98-14.610), 2001 JCP G. II, 10524, note B. Montels; French Supreme Court first civil chamber, 12 June 1990 (case No. 89-11.485); see also, more recently, Nice District Court, 29 September 2009, 2009 LP No. 266-05: the clause according to which “ces photos sont libres de tout droit d’utilisation par la marque (catalogue, PLV, presse, internet…) ne saurait être considérée comme valant autorisation générale donnée par ce mannequin de toute utilisation et publication de ces photographies par tout organe de presse sur tout support, et ne vaut que pour l’utilisation déterminée donnée, laquelle est limitée à l’utilisation par la seule marque visée, ce qui exclut nécessairement l’utilisation par des tiers sans référence à la marque”; see also Paris District Court, 4 December 2002, 2003 LP 204-09: the indeterminate authorization regarding the use of the image is not valid, since the consent of the person to the reproduction of her image must be express and special.

  50. 50.

    Brussels Court of Appeal, 12 November 1998, 1999 A&M 361.

  51. 51.

    German Federal Supreme Court, 8 May 1956 – I ZR 62/54, 1956 NJW 1554, Paul Dahlke.

  52. 52.

    Italian Supreme Court, Sez. I., 17 February 2004, case No. 3014, Corsini v. Pireddu.

  53. 53.

    See Johnson v. Boeing Airplane Co., 262 P.2d 808 (1953), however, albeit the court stated the plaintiff gave a general implied consent, it should be noted that plaintiff could barely be identified. Regarding a too-broad license signed by a young model, some might appreciate the remark of Judge Krenzler in the case Morgan v. Hustler Magazine, Inc., 653 F. Supp. 711, 718 (N.D. Ohio 1987): “The obvious answer is either do not sign a release or, if you do sign a release, make sure that you add or delete any language you deem appropriate or inappropriate before you sign the release”. For a broad, but precise license, permitting the photograph to be distorted in character or form, and to be used for any lawful purpose whatsoever, except malicious, ridiculous, scandalous or scorn use, and the addition of a beer bottle to the portrait of the person, so as to promote beer, see Sharman v. C. Schmidt & Sons, Inc., 216 F.Supp. 401, 404 (E.D. Pa. 1963). More recently, apparently admitting an unlimited license, Brasel v. Hail Co., 976 So.2d 390 (Miss. App. 2008).

  54. 54.

    For an implied license: Continental Optical Co. v. Reed, 86 N.E.2d 306, 309 (1949).

  55. 55.

    Russell v. Marboro Books, 183 N.Y.S.2d 8, 19 (Sup. 1959).

  56. 56.

    Who later made photographs for Dior with a look-alike of Jacqueline Kennedy: Onassis v. Christian Dior – New York, Inc., 472 N.Y.S.2d 254 (Sup. 1984).

  57. 57.

    Russell v. Marboro Books, 183 N.Y.S.2d 8, 20 (Sup. 1959).

  58. 58.

    Russell v. Marboro Books, 183 N.Y.S.2d 8, 29 (Sup. 1959).

  59. 59.

    Russell v. Marboro Books, 183 N.Y.S.2d 8, 30 (Sup. 1959), quoting Sinclair v. Postal Telegraph & Cable Co., 72 N.Y.S.2d 841, 842 (Sup. 1935): “a ‘composite’ picture, brought about by double printing or new matter added to a true photograph creates a new picture different from the one for which the subject posed”.

  60. 60.

    “The undersigned hereby irrevocably consents to the unrestricted use by Richard Avedon, advertisers, customers, successors and assigns, of my name, portrait or picture, for advertising purposes or purposes of trade, and I waive the right to inspect or approve such completed portraits, pictures, or advertising matter used in connection therewith” (Russell v. Marboro Books, 183 N.Y.S.2d 8, 19 (Sup. 1959)).

  61. 61.

    Cf. Nanterre District Court, 10 November 2011, 2012 LP 295-06, forbidding the use of uncropped photos, unexpectedly evocating a pornographic context, whereas consent for taking the photographs, and subsequent consent for publication according to a mock-up, were given.

  62. 62.

    Lepage (2009, No. 191): “en principe, le consentement est donné pour une occasion déterminée, il ne vaut qu’une fois et à l’égard du seul bénéficiaire du consentement”; also Caron (2005, p. 102): “l’objet du contrat […] devra forcément, défense de la personnalité oblige, être strictement délimité”; T. Hassler, “Quelle patrimonialisation pour le droit à l’image des personnes ? Pour une recomposition du droit à l’image” (2007 LP II, 123, 129): “il ne saurait donc y avoir de clause du genre ‘tous droits compris’ ou impliquant une cession globale non détaillée pour tous modes d’exploitation”; Marino (2009, No. 1774): “On ne peut dès lors s’engager en termes trop généraux, en consentant à tout, globalement et par avance”. See already one century ago, Fougerol (1913, p. 94).

  63. 63.

    Jeandin (2010, No. 74): “le consentement doit viser une atteinte déterminée, […] et ne saurait être illimité dans le temps”; Lévy (2002, p. 217): “[le consentement] est donc limité, en vertu du principe de finalité”. See however the recent case of the Tribunal Federal of 27 May 2010 (ATF 136 III, 401); and de Werra (2012).

  64. 64.

    For a detailed analysis, see Dierieckx (2005, No. 189 et seq.). See also Mouffe (2009, p. 469): “l’autorisation d’exploiter l’image d’une personne ne peut être que spéciale, c’est à dire qu’elle ne peut porter que sur un ou plusieurs usages déterminés d’une ou plusieurs photographies précises, ou doit au moins être limitée soit à certains types d’utilisation de l’image (notamment dans le temps), soit à certaines images. Le droit à l’image confère au modèle le droit de s’opposer à ce que son image soit reproduite au delà des limites correspondant au contrat et aux usages, sans que l’intéressé ait reçu une rémunération correspondante”.

  65. 65.

    Wanckel (2012, p. 235): “Bei Werbeaufnahmen sollte festgelegt werden, für welches Produkt, welche Kampagne und für welchen Zeitraum die Einwilligung erteilt wird”.

  66. 66.

    Targosz (2007, p. 51).

  67. 67.

    Festas (2009, p. 431).

  68. 68.

    McCarthy (2013, Sec. 10:24).

  69. 69.

    Rothman (2012, p. 235).

  70. 70.

    Ley de Propiedad Intelectual (1998), Art. 41: “La autorización deberá constar por escrito y referirse específicamente al tipo de utilización autorizada de la imagen”.

  71. 71.

    Advertising Code (Law of 25 October 2001), Art. 70: “L’autorisation de reproduction d’une photographie doit s’attacher à une utilisation précise et ne s’étend pas à des buts différents, sauf convention contraire. L’autorisation doit exprimer clairement la durée, les moyens de reproduction utilisés et les zones géographiques d’exploitation”.

  72. 72.

    See Castendyk, in Götting, Schertz and Seitz (2008, Sec. 41.14).

  73. 73.

    Factors Etc. Inc. v. Pro Arts, Inc., 579 F.2d 215, 221 (2nd Cir. 1978).

  74. 74.

    German Federal Supreme Court, 14 October 1986 – VI ZR 10/86, 1987 GRUR 128; 1987 NJW-RR 231.

  75. 75.

    See notably, for Elvis Presley, the subsequent case Presley’s Estate v. Russen, 513 F.Supp. 1339, 1346 (D.N.J. 1981), which considered this particular agreement as an agency.

  76. 76.

    Noble v. Town Sports Intern., Inc., 707 N.Y.S.2d 89 (1 Dept. 2000).

  77. 77.

    Even in recent cases, see Paris Court of Appeal, 12 December 2007, case No. 06/15914; and Poitiers Court of Appeal, 20 October 2010, case No. 07/00385.

  78. 78.

    Paris District Court, 17th chamber, 26 November 2003, C. Corman v. Getty Images et al., LP 2004, case No. 211-09: “le caractère étendu de cette autorisation n’est pas, en soi, de nature à vicier la cession des droits, les parties étant libres de fixer des limites plus ou moins strictes à leurs droits et obligations”.

  79. 79.

    Paris District Court, 17th chamber, 17 October 2005, 2006 LP 228-08.

  80. 80.

    French Supreme Court first civil chamber, 11 December 2008 (case No. 07-19.494), Delphine Brossard v. Photoalto, 2009 JCP G. II, 10025, note G. Loiseau.

  81. 81.

    T. Roussineau, note under French Supreme Court first civil chamber, 11 December 2008, 2009 LP 262, III, 109.

  82. 82.

    According to G. Loiseau, “il ne suffit donc pas, de notre point de vue, que les parties avaient stipulé de façon suffisamment claire les limites de l’autorisation donnée quant à sa durée, son domaine géographique, la nature des supports, et l’exclusion de certains contextes, pour satisfaire aux prescriptions légales”, 2009 JCP G. II, 10025 (note under French Supreme Court first civil chamber, 11 December 2008).

  83. 83.

    French Supreme Court first civil chamber, 28 January 2010 (case No. 08-70.248), Virginie Pauc v. Photoalto.

  84. 84.

    For J.-M. Bruguière, abovementioned note under Civ. 1ère, 28 January 2010, 2010 LP No. 272, 27, 29, freedom of contract is not the jungle; and for G. Loiseau, “Droits de la personnalité, janvier 2010 – décembre 2010”, 2011 LP No. 279, 63, 66, “s’en remettre, alors, à la liberté contractuelle n’est qu’une façon de cautionner un libéralisme débridé”.

  85. 85.

    French Supreme Court first civil chamber, 4 November 2011 (case No. 10-24.761), 2012 JCP G. note 71, G. Loiseau; 2012 RTDCiv. 91, obs. J. Hauser.

  86. 86.

    According to J. Hauser, “Tout accord dans ce domaine devra être soigneusement épelé, voire dépecé et l’accord-cadre n’y aura pas droit de cité. Tel est le prix à payer à la conventionalisation en général”, abovementioned observations under this case, 2012 RTDCiv. 91.

  87. 87.

    See Gisclard (2014)

  88. 88.

    Kayser (1995, No. 137): “une personne ne peut consentir à la divulgation de sa vie privée que pour des événements déjà accomplis ou sur le point de s’accomplir. Elle ne peut l’autoriser pour des événements futurs et indéterminés, car elle renoncerait ainsi au droit au respect de sa vie privée”.

  89. 89.

    However, in a very questionable decision, the Supreme Court decided that there was no problem in licensing 84 pictures of the same person: French Supreme Court first civil division, 28 January 2010 (case No. 08-70.248), abovementioned.

  90. 90.

    In German case law, see German Federal Supreme Court, 8 May 1956 – I ZR 62/54, 1956 NJW 1554, 1956 GRUR 427, Paul Dahlke; German Federal Supreme Court, 6 February 1979 – VI ZR 46/77, 1979 NJW 2203, Fußballspieler; Hamburg Court of Appeal, 28 June 2011, 7 U 39/11, on tacit consent: “Zweck und Umfang der geplanten Veröffentlichung müssen entweder ausdrücklich klargestellt oder nach den Umständen so offensichtlich sein, dass über ihren Inhalt seitens des Einwilligenden keine Unklarheiten bestehen”. In Italy, Italian Supreme Court, Sez. I., 28 March 1990, No. 2527, Soc. Editrice Tattilo v. Sandrelli, 1990 Giust. Civ. I, 2371; see, however, Monza District Court, 26 March 1990, 1991 Foro It. 2862.

  91. 91.

    Even if the nature of the authorized advertisement and of the litigious one are similar: Rb Brussel, 12 October 1988, quoted by Dierieckx (2005, No. 223).

  92. 92.

    In that case, the endorser might be held liable: see, in the United States, e.g., Zayda Hanberry v. Hearst Corporation, 276 Cal.App.2d, 680 (4th Dist. 1969); In re Cooga Mooga, 92 F.T.C. 310 (1978); Ramson v. Layne, 668 F.Supp. 162 (N.D. Ill. 1987); In re Diamond Mortg. Corp. of Illinois, 118 B.R. 853 (N.D. Ill. 1989) (regarding a Ponzi scheme); Blodgett (1985), Kogan (1987), Kertz and Ohanian (1990), Hirschfeld (2004). In Japan, Morio Kurahashi v. Dairyu K.K., Tokyo District Court, 30 March 1987, 638 Hanrei Taimuzu 85.

  93. 93.

    Paris Court of Appeal, 13 February 1971, 1971 JCP G. II, 16774, about an advertisement for a garment worn by actor Jean-Paul Belmondo in a movie. Under similar circumstances, in Italy, see Rome District Court, 22 December 1994, 1995 Foro It. I, 2285.

  94. 94.

    Versailles Court of Appeal, 8 November 2012, case No. 10/05462.

  95. 95.

    French Supreme Court first civil chamber, 14 June 2007 (case No. 06-13.601): “la publication de l’image dont il s’agit, utilisée dans une perspective différente de celle pour laquelle elle avait été réalisée, exige le consentement spécial des intéressés”.

  96. 96.

    Relaçao de Lisboa, 28 September 2004, Doca de Alcântara (quoted by Festas (2009, p. 328)).

  97. 97.

    German Federal Supreme Court, 22 January 1985 – VI ZR 28/83, 1985 NJW 1617.

  98. 98.

    German Federal Supreme Court, 28 September 2004 – VI ZR 305/03, 2005 GRUR 74, Charlotte Casiraghi.

  99. 99.

    Nîmes Court of Appeal, 7 January 1988, 1988 JCP G. II, 21059.

  100. 100.

    In French Supreme Court first civil chamber, 30 May 2000 (case No. 98-14.610), 2001 JCP G. II, 10524: a press article criticized a famous French rock star who frequently licenses his personality for commercial advertisements; the Supreme Court overruled the decision of the court of appeal, which stated that the pictures published reflected the commercial activity of the plaintiff and thus would not violate the purpose: “la publication des photographies ne respectait pas la finalité visée dans l’autorisation donnée par l’intéressé”.

  101. 101.

    In New Jersey, Canessa v. J.I. Kislak, Inc., 235 A.2d 62, 80 (1977): consent to tell the story of a family in the press does not allow for use in advertising a company referred to in the story. In Italy, Genoa, 13 January 1953, 1953 Riv. Dir. Comm. II, 31: an authorization for publication in Life Magazine does not allow use for advertising Vespa motorcycles.

  102. 102.

    See the critic by Isgour and Vinçotte (1998, No. 99).

  103. 103.

    In France, Supreme Court second civil chamber, 17 March 1977, 1977 D. I.R. 316: actress Catherine Deneuve was photographed in the nude by her then husband, legendary British photographer David Bailey; these photographs were published with her consent in Playboy magazine, but the latter then assigned without authorization these photographs to Lui magazine. Whereas Paris District Court, 16 January 1974, 1976 D. 120, with a critical note by R. Lindon, esteemed that Deneuve had abandoned her right to image, not only regarding to Playboy, but also to any similar magazine, the Paris Court of Appeal (14 May 1975, 1976 D. 291), said that “toute personne a sur son image et sur l’utilisation qui en est faite un droit exclusif, et peut s’opposer à sa diffusion sans son autorisation”.

  104. 104.

    In the United States, see Cher v. Forum International, Ltd., 692 F.2d 634 (9th Cir. 1982). In France, Paris Court of Appeal, 9 November 1982, 1984 D. 30.

  105. 105.

    In Germany, Castendyk, in Götting, Schertz and Seitz (2008, Sec. 41.13): “Insbesondere Werbezwecke müssen ausdrücklich lizenziert sein”.

  106. 106.

    Or, for example, if a so-called “hologram” of a person is used in a show, whereas the license does not contain any provision regarding this new technology.

  107. 107.

    Versailles Court of Appeal, 21 March 2002, 2002 LP III, 137: the agreement stipulated: “cession intégrale quel que soit le support ou le procédé d’exploitation […] de l’ensemble des droits de ces mannequins sur leur image, pour le travail ayant fait l’objet d’une commande de La Redoute”; the Court stated that “le consentement donné à la publication des photographies dans le catalogue de la société La Redoute n’emporte pas en lui même autorisation de publication dans d’autres supports”. See also Aix en Provence Court of Appeal, 2 December 2003 (2004 LP 212-06): the authorization to publish a photograph in a book does not extend to a drawing included in a CD-ROM made from this photograph; and Paris Court of Appeal, 9 November 1982, 1984 D. 30, for a model. Also Paris District Court, 15 February 1984, 1984 D. I.R. 331, obs. R. Lindon. See already Seine, 10 April 1896, 1897 Annales de la Propriété Industrielle, Artistique, et Littéraire 137. In Belgium, Voorz. Rb. Gent, 18 December 1998, 1999 A&M 286. Also Civ. Brussels, 12 October 1988, 1990 Revue Générale de Droit Civil (Belge) 250, for use of the picture of the laureate of a model competition outside the scope of the license. In Italy, Italian Supreme Court, Sez. III, 10 June 1997, case No. 5175. In New York, use of plaintiff’s photo on hang tags attached to clothing, whereas the license was limited to “print advertising only” is considered as a violation of §50–51 Civil Rights Law: Walden v. F.W. Woolworth Co., 525 N.Y.S.2d 224 (1st Dep’t 1988). In Argentina, National Civil Chamber, 8 January 1980: the consent for a precise magazine does not extend to another publication, quoted by Lamas (2004, p. 219).

  108. 108.

    Paris Court of Appeal, 26 May 1987, 1987 JCP G. II, 20904, for an interview of singer Michel Sardou.

  109. 109.

    Cepeda v. Swift & Co., 415 F.2d 1205 (8th Cir. 1969).

  110. 110.

    French Supreme Court first civil chamber, 20 June 1966, 1966 JCP G. II, 14890, regarding actor Jean-Claude Brially: an authorization given for a catalog for clients is of no effect for publication in the press for the general public. See also Paris, 4 October 1984, Gassmann v. Assoc. Salon international de la photo, 1985 D. I.R. 163. In Belgium, the authorization to publish in an internal review of an airline cannot be extended to a calendar for the general public: Brussels Court of Appeal, 7 April 2000, 2001 Journal des Tribunaux 779. In similar circumstances, in Argentina, Court of Civil Appeal, 3 December 2002, L.350554, Del Monte v. Banco Bansud.

  111. 111.

    See Rooney v. Columbia Pictures Industries, 538 F. Supp. 211 (S.D. N.Y. 1982).

  112. 112.

    Nanterre District Court, 8 December 1999, 2000 JCP G. II, 10279.

  113. 113.

    For Tallon (1996, No. 145): “il est certain que [l’autorisation] ne peut être illimitée dans le temps. See also Paris Court of Appeal, 18 March 1991, 1991 D. I.R. 109.

  114. 114.

    Paris Court of Appeal, 20 March 1985, 1985 D. I.R. 324.

  115. 115.

    In practice, a two-year duration seems to be economically desirable for merchandising, at least to begin with: see Schertz in Götting, Schertz and Seitz (2008, Sec. 43.50). For advertising campaigns, the duration corresponds to the period of exclusivity granted to the company, in general one or two years, even though the advertising campaign itself only lasts three months (ibidem Sec. 44.21). Article 16.4 of the French Convention collective étendue for mannequins, dated 22 June 2004, provides that « les pratiques professionnelles prévoient que la prestation de présentation du mannequin comprend le droit d’utiliser son image en France durant 12 mois uniquement dans la presse et dans les catalogues […] ». See Paris Court of Appeal, 10 November 1988, 1989 D. I.R. 16; and Versailles Court of Appeal, 17 March 1994, 7 Revue Juridique Droit des Affaires 872, 676 (1994). In the United States, see Rothman (2012, p. 235), who recommends a one-to-three year period.

  116. 116.

    See e.g., recently, in France, French Supreme Court second civil chamber, 25 April 2013 (case No. 11-26.323), 2013 JCP G. note 1054, T. Gisclard.

  117. 117.

    For personal services contracts in California, see California Labor Code §2855.

  118. 118.

    Tokyo District Court, 8 September 1994, 1536 Hanrei Jiho 61 (1995), also in 28 IIC 414 (1997) Christopher Heath thinks that this solution can be extended to a license of personality rights: The System of Unfair Competition Prevention in Japan Sec. 3/218 (Kluwer, The Hague, 2001). See also, in Argentina, Court of Appeal, 19 April 1996, Laboratorios Arrayanes, La Ley 1997-D, 159.

  119. 119.

    In the United States, a tacit license (therefore without any stipulated duration) was deemed to have expired ten years after the consent was given by a student to illustrate an advertisement for a health studio exercise course; the student did not have any duty to revoke his consent: McAndrews v. Roy, 131 So.2d 256, 259 (La. App. 1961). See also the Restatement Third, Unfair Competition, §46 comment f. (1995), that states: “Unless irrevocable, consent is terminated when the user knows or has reason to know that the other is no longer willing to permit the particular use. The unwillingness may be manifested by words or by conduct inconsistent with continued consent such as the commencement of legal action”. See nevertheless, refusing to void a contract of indefinite duration in New York, Francica v. Fun World, 524 N.Y.S.2d 612, 614 (Sup. 1988). Also in The Netherlands, when the publisher cannot reasonably expect that an earlier consent is still in force, even 18 months after the recording: Amsterdam Pres. District Court, 2 February 1995, 1995 KG 137 (X/NCRV), quoted by Pinckaers (1996, p. 170).

  120. 120.

    Paris Court of Appeal, 12 December 2007 (case No. 06/15914).

  121. 121.

    A resolutory condition can also be stipulated, in the interest of the licensor (loss of control or dismissal of the licensor by licensee, dramatic changes in the activity of the licensee: see G. Parléani, note under Cass. Fr. Com. 13 June 1995 (case No. 93-17.056), 1996 Revue des Sociétés 65, No. 8) or of the licensee (scandalous behavior of the licensor, such as cocaine addiction). See Boyd (2011).

  122. 122.

    See, e.g., in France, Grenoble Court of Appeal, 3 September 2012 (case No. 09/04790).

  123. 123.

    In France, Paris District Court, 26 September 1984, 1985 D. I.R. 164, obs. R. Lindon (the authorization was for French TV, but it was sold abroad). In Italy, Rome District Court, 28 April 1975, 1975 Dir. Aut. 424. In Burkina Faso, Advertising Code (Law of 25 October 2001), Art. 70 al. 2.

  124. 124.

    See, e.g., Paris Court of Appeal, 12 May 2011, case No. 10-15.616.

  125. 125.

    In some countries, the existence of financial compensation can prove the existence of consent to the exploitation of the image: for example, in Germany, Sec. 22 German Law on Copyright in Artistic Works; see also Art. 81 al. 1 of the Polish law on author’s rights; Art. 514 of the Civil Code of former Soviet Russia; and in present-day Russia, Art. 152-1 of the Russian Civil Code; also in Art. 18.5 of the Civil Code of Georgia; in Art. 17 of the Civil Code of Turkmenistan; and in Art. 21.6 of the Civil Code of Mongolia.

  126. 126.

    Tarascon District Court, 2 July 1982, 1983 D. 394: “attendu qu’il n’est pas rapporté la preuve qu’en acceptant d’être photographié maintes et maintes fois Fesquet ait donné son accord pour que la publicité soit faite sans qu’il reçoive ce à quoi il avait droit”. Also Paris Court of Appeal, 9 November 1982, 1984 D. 30: “le préjudice subi par Mlle B. résultait essentiellement de la perte de la rémunération qu’elle aurait pu percevoir si son autorisation avait été demandée”. See also Ravanas (1978, No. 287): “en pratique, l’importance de la rémunération versée au modèle contribuera, en l’absence de dispositions formelles du contrat, à rapporter la preuve de son consentement”.

  127. 127.

    Paris Court of Appeal, 12 December 2007, case No. 06/15914: “ce document qui autorise une diffusion dans le monde entier, pour une période indéfinie, sur tous supports connus ou futurs, ne prévoyant d’exception que pour trois magazines, est trop général, alors au surplus qu’il émane d’un mannequin sans expérience qui n’en était qu’aux prémices de sa carrière et ne mentionne aucune rémunération ou contrepartie”; see also Paris Court of Appeal, 30 April 1998, quoted by Ennochi (2002, p. 133): “cette convention ne peut être utilement invoquée par la société X, Monsieur E.D.P. n’ayant pu valablement s’engager en des termes aussi généraux et contraires aux usages, pour un prix aussi vil”.

  128. 128.

    Caron (2005, p. 104): “sauf hypothèse altruiste de contrat à titre gratuit, il est impératif que la personne puisse être rémunérée”. For Ancel (1978, No. 208), “la rémunération est une condition de validité du contrat”. In Italy, already half a century ago, de Cupis, (1959, No. 114), stated that in case of gratuitous license, its interpretation should be particularly restrictive.

  129. 129.

    Rb. Mechelen, 29 March 1983, Rechtskundig Weekblad 1984–85, col. 61; Mouffe (2009, p. 469): “Le droit à l’image confère au modèle le droit de s’opposer à ce que son image soit reproduite au delà des limites correspondant au contrat et aux usages, sans que l’intéressé ait reçu une rémunération correspondante”.

  130. 130.

    See, however, Paris Court of Appeal, 4 December 2008 (case No. 06/17740).

  131. 131.

    French Supreme Court second civil chamber, 25 April 2013 (case No. 11-26.323), 2013 JCP G. note 1054, T. Gisclard.

  132. 132.

    Refusing to require a consideration in New York statutory privacy law, see Alvidrez v. Roberto Coin, Inc., 791 N.Y.S.2d 344, 346 (Sup. 2005). See also, although for an extension of consent for which plaintiff had been paid, Cory v. Nintendo of America, Inc., 592 N.Y.S.2d 6, 8 (1st Dept. 1993). However, stating that by providing consent and (we underline) receiving payment, plaintiff waived privacy claim in New York, Noble v. Town Sports Intern., Inc., 707 N.Y.S.2d 89 (1st Dept. 2000). Historically, licenses granted for free even involved famous people, such as for the Lux soap; see also a Lucky Strike advertisement with Jean Harlow in 1931, that even mentioned that Ms Harlow was not paid a single cent for her endorsement (quoted by Lehu (1993, p. 506)).

  133. 133.

    In New York, Garden v. Parfumerie Rigaud, 271 N.Y.S. 187, 189 (1933).

  134. 134.

    Zénati-Castaing and Revet (2006, No. 340): “la rémunération de la concession de jouissance de l’image d’une personne n’est pas réglementée par la loi, sauf l’hypothèse de l’exploitation de l’image d’un artiste-interprète […]. Elle est librement déterminée par les parties”.

  135. 135.

    French Supreme Court first civil chamber, 11 December 2008 (case No. 07-19.494), Delphine Brossard v. Photoalto.

  136. 136.

    Law of 8 July 1907, modified by law of 10 March 1937 and of 13 July 1979.

  137. 137.

    Ancel (1978, No. 208): “le souci de protéger le [comédien] salarié conduit même à exiger que cette rémunération atteigne un montant minimum”.

  138. 138.

    Caron (2005, p. 104), drawing an analogy with author’s right. Contra, T. Hassler (2007, p. 131).

  139. 139.

    Lehu (1993, p. 484). See also, in Germany, Schertz in Götting, Schertz and Seitz (2008, Sec. 44.17).

  140. 140.

    For example, photographs of the marriage of model Claudia Schiffer were licensed to Spanish magazine Hola in 2002 for €700,000, according to Bezzenberger in Götting, Schertz and Seitz (2008, Sec. 46.54). In France, in an advertisement for a coffee brand, rock star Johnny Halliday was given €167,694 (Caen Court of Appeal, 9 September 2011, case No. 10/02218).

  141. 141.

    Wanckel (2012, No. 286).

  142. 142.

    Kunihiro Fujioka v. K.K. Danshi Senka Paris, Toyama District Court, 31 October 1986, 1218 Hanrei Jiho 128.

  143. 143.

    In the United States, see also O’Brien and Lugosi (2005); and Savare (2004). In Italy, see Troiano (1991, p. 764 et seq.) and Barenghi (1992).

  144. 144.

    For D. Acquarone (1985, No. 36) “l’article 35 [of the law of author’s right of 11 March 1957, stating that ‘la cession par l’auteur de ses droits sur son œuvre […] doit comporter au profit de l’auteur la participation proportionnelle aux recettes provenant de la vente ou de l’exploitation’] est pratiquement adaptable, sans aucune modification, à la situation du sujet cédant le droit d’exploiter son image”.

  145. 145.

    French Supreme Court second civil chamber, 9 July 2009 (case No. 08-18.794), Semaine Sociale Lamy, 5 October 2009, No. 1415, 12, note G. Loiseau.

  146. 146.

    See also the abovementioned Johnny Halliday case, French Supreme Court second civil chamber, 25 April 2013 (case No. 11-26.323), 2013 JCP G. note 1054, T. Gisclard.

  147. 147.

    Schertz, in Götting, Schertz and Seitz (2008, Sec. 43.44).

  148. 148.

    Moore (1997).

  149. 149.

    Actress Farrah Fawcett advertised for toothpaste and later became famous for her role in the series Charlie’s Angels: for use of the advertisement after the series, such a clause would allow higher royalties.

  150. 150.

    For example, Shelley Hack was nicknamed “Charlie Girl” after her advertisements for the eponymous Revlon perfume. However, the perfumer does not own this secondary meaning, which he nonetheless partly developed, or its subsequent added value for him as the licensee of the publicity rights.


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The comparative analysis made in this article could not have been completed without the help of, notably, Pr. Teresa Grzeszak (Warsaw), Rute Pedro (Porto), Maud Piers (Gent), Hannes Rösler (Hamburg), Markus Tschudi (Fribourg), and Alberto Ugo (Milano). The author also thanks John Andrews for his comments.

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Correspondence to Thibault Gisclard.

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Gisclard, T. Limitations of Autonomy of the Will in Conventions of Exploitation of Personality Rights. IIC 45, 18–42 (2014).

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  • Personality rights
  • Right of publicity
  • License agreements
  • Restrictive interpretation
  • Royalties
  • Comparative law