Persona theft need not always result in injury
SummaryThe Delhi high court’s order barring the unauthorized use of actor Anil Kapoor’s persona is understandable in the age of AI. Over-strictness on this, though, could punish harmless fun
A high court order in favour of actor Anil Kapoor has barred the commercial misuse of his persona, including his characteristic use of the term ‘jhakaas.’ The interim order restrains social media channels, e-commerce platforms and people at large from infringing a broadly outlined set of his personal rights. The court ordered that the actor’s name, voice, image or dialogues must not be used without his authorization. So, using a voice clip of his for a ringtone, for example, now stands barred unless he approves. Also, the word ‘jhakaas’—at least the way he says it. A Marathi slang that translates roughly to ‘awesome,’ it has been articulated so frequently by Kapoor in his films, and that too with a particular twisted-lip inflection, that the court found merit in the argument that his way of saying it is part of his persona. Those who appropriate any of this for their own ends cannot claim to be exercising freedom of speech. “When [free speech] crosses the line and results in tarnishment… or results in jeopardizing the individual’s personality and elements associated with the said individual, the same would be illegal," held the court.