The Fame Game: The Peculiarities of Sports Image Rights in the United Kingdom



Haynes R (2004) The Fame Game: The Peculiarities of Sports Image Rights in the United Kingdom. Trends in Communication, 12 (2-3), pp. 101-116.

A new legal term has entered the lexicon of sport fans. Image rights, broadly defined as the commercial appropriation of someone's personality, including indexes of their image, voice, name, and signature, became widely discussed among sports fans after the sale of a leading European soccer player Louis Figo to Real Madrid in 2000. Since then a range of legal, economic, and political arguments have developed in the United Kingdom as to what image rights actually are, their legal efficacy, and their potential impact on developments in the long-standing relationship between sport and the media. In particular, this article focuses on the problematic definition of the term in the United Kingdom context and how it relates to certain economic and commercial transformations in British sport. Using soccer as its primary focus, this article traces the rise of image rights clauses in player contracts. This process is analyzed in the context of rapid and dramatic change in the media coverage of the sport in what is called the new media environment. This article concludes with a range of issues raised by the tightening controls of both proprietary and contractual rights related to sports images and information, and its potential impact on the wider economy and culture of new media sport.

sport; image rights; intellectual property; football

Trends in Communication: Volume 12, Issue 2-3

Publication date31/12/2004
PublisherLawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc/ Taylor and Francis

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Professor Richard Haynes
Professor Richard Haynes

Professor, Communications, Media and Culture