Guernsey is the first jurisdiction in the world to offer registered image rights, a new form of intellectual property, and its image rights law is potentially the best way for those in the public eye to protect their assets.
Guernsey's image rights legislation and register allows owners of such rights to register them and create a more clearly separable and marketable asset. In the same way that a trade mark demonstrates distinctiveness for a company or product, so an image right will demonstrate the distinctiveness of an individual.
By structuring image rights royalties for celebrities and personalities, for example through a Guernsey image rights holding company, an individual (or their employer) could enjoy substantial savings on income and capital taxes. They would not be subject to local taxes either provided the beneficial owner of those rights is not resident in Guernsey.
Guernsey's Image Rights legislation provides the ability for registration within five distinct categories of personalities. This, in turn enables the registration of a wide variety of rights and associated imagery.
1. Natural Person
This covers any sole personality such as Usain Bolt, David Beckham, Lady Gaga etc. This can be any personality who is alive or who died within 100 years of the application. This would therefore cover personalities such as James Dean, Marilyn Monroe and Elvis Presley.
2. Joint Personality
This covers two or more natural or legal persons who are intrinsically linked together such as Morecambe and Wise or Ant and Dec. The constituent parts of a joint personality can not be changed.
An example of this would be England football team or the group Queen. Both of these groups feature memberships which change over time. It could be argued that a group such as U2, whose members have not changed, may be considered a joint personality.
4. Fictional Characters
Fictional characters will be able to be registered singly, jointly or in groups. Examples of each would be Winnie the Pooh, Tom and Jerry and the Teletubbies, although if the component parts of the group were never going to change then a joint personality right might be preferable.
5. Legal Entity
A legal entity in whatever form will be able to register itself as a personality and will be able to register images associated with itself. This means that a corporation such as Marvel or Disney would be able to register and associate names and images of the characters it creates.