Academic journal article The International Sports Law Journal

Sports Image Rights in Bulgaria

Academic journal article The International Sports Law Journal

Sports Image Rights in Bulgaria

Article excerpt

1. Introduction

In Bulgaria the concept of "image rights" has not been developed as such. The reason is the fact that the English word "image" has been literally transplanted in the Bulgarian language but associated only with one of its aspects. Dan Harrington and Nick White, who contributed the chapter on the image rights in the United Kingdom (1) for the first edition of the Sports Image Rights in Europe, revealed the different meanings of the word "image", which "may be used to refer to a particular picture or photo, or, alternatively, to how an individual is perceived". They underlined the ambiguity of the word when used in terms of "how an individual is perceived", because this "may be a reference on the one hand to that individual's persona or character or to what others think of that person". On the other hand, according to the authors of the UK chapter, "it may be used more literally, to refer to the person's physical appearance". They ultimately agreed that the meaning of "image" as a person's physical appearance "is reasonably near to the meaning of "image" in the phrase "image rights".

In Bulgaria the word "image" is used only to refer to its aspect of how an individual is perceived. Consequently, the Bulgarian word "image" does not correspond in meaning to "the person's physical appearance", not even implies this aspect of the word as present in the original English word. That is why the use of "image" according to its Bulgarian context in the connotation "image rights" would turn out to be far from its actual meaning in English.

However, Bulgarian legal doctrine has identified and developed as concepts other rights, which, in their totality, covers all aspects of the image rights arising from the original meaning of the word "image" in English. Personality rights for the protection of privacy and protection of personal data, right of portrait, right of name, and right of trademark constitute such rights. The right of good name is the concept which to a maximum extent overlaps the concept of image rights as it is perceived in Bulgaria due to the likeness of the words "image" and "good name" in Bulgarian language.

This country chapter will review and analyse the above mentioned rights in the context of Bulgarian law as well as the legal means for their enforcement, enhancement and protection. It will further provide information and discuss matters related to the management of image rights (sponsorship)

2. Personality Rights

The general personality rights for the protection of privacy of citizens including sportsmen are set forth in the Constitution (2). Pursuant to article 32 of the Constitution of Republic of Bulgaria "the privacy of citizens shall be inviolable. Everyone shall be entitled to protection against any illegal interference in his private or family affairs and against encroachments on his honour, dignity and good name. No one shall be followed, photographed, filmed, recorded or subjected to any other similar activity without his knowledge or despite his express disapproval, except when such actions are permitted by law." The right of any citizen to refuse to be filmed and photographed in certain cases not falling within the permissible exceptions may serve as a ground for athletes to commercially exploit their general personality rights by agreeing to be photographed and filmed against a fee.

3. Right of Good Name

Right of good name is one of the personality rights explicitly mentioned in the Constitution. As already said before this right to a largest extent fits the concept of image rights in Bulgarian context as far as "image" and "good name" are very close in meaning in Bulgarian language. Besides its presence in article 32 of the Constitution this right is also listed among the limitations of the right of expression in article 39 thereof. "This right (the right of expression) may not be used for infringement of the rights and the good name of another person. …

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