Without image rights, social media influencers have other options in Singapore
22 May 2023
In the absence of image rights in Singapore, there is no shortage of options for social media influencers in the country whose names, photos, signatures and personal brands have been used without their knowledge and consent.
At the 2023 INTA Annual Meeting Live+ on May 16, Pei Lin Low, a partner at Allen & Gledhill in Singapore, discussed these options while citing cases involving social media influencers in her talk on “Influencers Marketing: Balancing Regulation, Brand Protection and Endorser Goals.”
One such case she discussed involved Singaporean model Duan Mei Yue. In 2022, Duan alleged that Russian artist Angelina Poveteva used her face without her consent for an artwork showing a topless woman in her likeness. The painting was on exhibit at the International Interactive Festival of Contemporary Art in Moscow in October 2021 and was for sale.
“It’s interesting to consider what actions could be taken by influencers if this happened. They can actually go to court. In Singapore, there is no specific protection of image rights unlike in the U.S.,” said Low.
However, she noted that social media influencers who are in the same boat as Duan may consider taking action under the law of passing off. They can also take potential action for defamation in some jurisdictions.
Another option is to file a lawsuit for copyright infringement. Low stressed that Singapore’s Copyright Act includes moral rights, which pertain to the right to be identified as the author of the work and one’s right against false identification. Hashtags can also be protected.
“We’ve seen the popularity of using hashtags for influencers as well as for brands,” said Low, adding that there has been an increase in applications for hashtags in the U.S.
While the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has issued guidelines on the registrability of hashtags, it’s a different case in Singapore. Hashtags still have to be distinctive from any other trademark before it can be registered in the country.
The 2023 INTA Annual Meeting Live+ was held at the Sands Expo & Convention Centre in Singapore and ran until May 20, 2023.
- Espie Angelica A. de Leon