YouTubers’ voices and buzzwords are also protected…What is publicity rights?
As the Ministry of Justice recently decided to stipulate the so-called “publicity right” in the law, not only celebrities but also celebrities such as YouTubers are expected to be protected like other property rights. Opportunities to generate profits using these rights are also expected to expand.
According to the legal circles on the 3rd, the Ministry of Justice announced the revision of the Civil Act on the 26th of last month. The amendment stipulated the right to use elements that represent individual characteristics such as a person’s name, portrait, and voice as “personality signs” and to use them for profit.
The “right to commercialize personality signs” is the right for a person to use personality signs such as portraits, statements, and voices for profit, and is called the so-called publicity right. Several countries, including the United States, Germany, Japan, and France, have recognized the right to profit from personality signs through laws and precedents.
In Korea, celebrity’s right to self-mark is indirectly recognized through the ‘Act on the Prevention of Unfair Competition and the Protection of Trade Secrets’. However, it was pointed out that the target was limited to “others who are widely recognized and have economic value in Korea,” and that the general public did not reflect the current situation of communicating with many people through social networking services (SNS).
The measure is interpreted as a result of the growth of the SNS and Internet broadcasting industries such as YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok, as the Ministry of Justice explained the background of the revision that “anyone can become famous.”
In fact, YouTubers and Internet broadcasters with millions of subscribers have the same influence as celebrities and sports stars. Some are also active in terrestrial and general broadcasting beyond the platform.
In this situation, when the legislative process of the revision of the civil law is completed, the general public can also be recognized as an individual’s property right. In particular, influencers are expected to have more room to actively utilize various factors that can represent them.
The legal community is suggesting that not only one’s appearance and voice, but also small parts such as speech, buzzwords, behavior, and silhouettes can correspond to personality signs.
“Personality signs have been limited to simply using their names in advertisements, but in the future, we need to get permission to make games and webtoons based on someone’s name and characteristics,” said DKL Partners, a lawyer at Kwondan Law Office, in a telephone interview with Newsis.
He went on to say, “Don’t YouTubers and influencers know everything in the industry and (and) fans?” and added, “All the unique things that can match the identity of the person can be included.” It can be anything anyone can see, such as the way he usually speaks or the shape of Park Ji-sung’s feet. He said, “I think a new market will open.”
Shin Jong-beom, a lawyer at a law firm, said, “If a certain person is reminded of a certain person, it can also be recognized as a personality sign,” adding, “If someone tries to commercially use a popular YouTuber’s photo or voice, they must seek consent and pay an appropriate fee.” “It’s more likely that (influencers) will make a profit,” he said.
Jeong Yang-hoon, a lawyer at Barun Law Firm, also said, “If even silhouettes are personality and combined, something that can refer to someone can come out. If it is economically attractive, of course it is also (corresponding to personality signs),” he said, adding, “I’m out” and “Kim Driver” should not be used recklessly anymore. “You can think of it as a very trivial thing,” he said.
However, experts agreed that it could be a restriction on Internet broadcasters who handle content that imitates other celebrities’ appearances and voices or posts photos.
Meanwhile, the amendment to the Civil Code also stipulates the right to allow others to use personality signs for profit, and to remove or prevent them in case of infringement. It also contains the content that if a person with a personality mark commercial right dies, it will be inherited like other property rights and will last for 30 years.
The Ministry of Justice will fully collect various opinions to finalize the final revision, review the Ministry of Government Legislation, and submit it to the National Assembly early this year after revising the bill.