Personal Rights

Personal rights are separate from copyright, and must be taken into consideration during the permissions process.  The following is an introduction to personal rights concepts, including suggested strategies for avoiding personal rights infringment.

False Light, Defamation, Libel, and Injurious Falsehood

  • False light is a public false portrayal, with reckless disregard (regardless of intention), of an individual as something highly offensive or embarrassing that he or she is not.

  • Defamation is a false statement made that tends to harm the reputation of an individual by exposure to contempt or ridicule, lowering the estimation of the individual within the community or deterring others from associating or dealing with the defamed individual. 

  • Libel is a defamatory statement that is written/published.

  • Injurious falsehood is a false statement made with malicious intent about a business entity that affects its commercial interests.

To avoid false light, defamation, libel, and injurious falsehood, fact-check any potentially damaging statements to ensure they are accurate and unbiased. Otherwise, rephrase to express the statement as an opinion (i.e. "it would appear" or "this suggests").  The reasonable person test is employed to further avoid instances of false light: Would a reasonable person be offended by this statement if it were false?

Privacy Rights

  • Public disclosure of private facts is the revealing of truthful but private or embarrassing facts about a person without legitimate public concern or newsworthiness.

  • Intrusion upon seclusion is the intrusion into private areas or affairs, including the wrongful use of tape recorders and cameras.

  • Misappropriation of name or likeness/right of publicity is the unauthorized use of a person's name, photograph, likeness, voice, or endorsement to promote the sale of a commercial product or service.

To avoid infringement of privacy rights, ensure proper release forms and permissions granting appropriate rights have been obtained and documented.


Please note that the information provided on this site is not intended to be legal advice.  You may wish to consult with your own legal counsel regarding your legal obligations.