Legal Practitioner Godwin Selasi Owusu has pointed out major legal and civil reasons why celebrity lookalikes should be stopped from cashing in, or soiling the reputations of their originals.
He said the activities of these individuals are likely to cause unfair competition and put the reputation of the original celebrity at risk.
Although resemblance is natural and cannot be controlled, the activities and intentions of impersonating the main people without their consent, he said, are legally unacceptable, hence, the main celebrities have the legal right to sue their lookalikes under the common law of passing off (Unfair Discrimination Act 589) or criminal act.
He said this while explaining the legal implications of celebrity lookalikes on Joy Prime’s Morning Show.
Explaining the criminality of the act, he said, “Because defrauding by false pretences under Act 29, which is the criminal act under Section 132, talks about the fact that you make your representation of false pretences to suggest that you’re someone for the person or someone to part with a property.”
“So once we go elsewhere, like a village, and you get someone to think you’re Kuami Eugene or Mr. Drew, and the person parts with property or money, then you could be held liable for defrauding by false pretence, and that’s a second-degree felony. And offences which include dishonesty can lead to about a sentence of 20 years, that is the criminal side,” he added.
With the civil implications, the lawyer said performing songs of the artistes on stage without their permission is an infringement on their performance rights.
“When you mount a stage and you mislead people or you make it as though you’re Kuami Eugene and you perform their songs, then you’re likely to infringe on their performance rights, and infringement can also be fined and lead to a jail term of about 5 years,” he stated.
He also said that the performances of these lookalikes may reduce the distinct nature of the goodwill these musicians have been able to establish over the years.
Beyond the defence of fair use, some factors can be taken into consideration, which include the purpose of the usage of the copyrighted material.
However, suing for damages gives the real owners of the songs the right to put an injunction on these lookalikes, preventing them from some artistic activities.
“The court will restrain them from doing all these activities, like performing and all those things.”
While the managers of these celebrities are advised to take the necessary actions immediately to stop these persons before the situations worsen, the lookalikes are also urged to be confident in themselves and create their own contents.
This will save them from the possibility of being jailed and criticism from people.
There has been a recent trend of artiste lookalikes flaunting on social media in the country to the extent of performing songs of the main artistes at events.
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