Sources of law

Right of publicity

Is the right of publicity recognised?

Greek law does not explicitly recognise the right of publicity, but considers it to be part of the right of personality. The latter encompasses all elements of human existence (Papantoniou, General Principles of Civil Law (1982), page 105, Decision No. 1010/2002 of the Supreme Court, Nomiko Vima, 51, 248), and includes a person’s honour and reputation, the right to privacy, the right to image and to other physical features and intellectual property rights. As the concept of personality is not defined in Greek law, the enforcer may adjust the meaning to the ever-changing manners and opinions of society.

The right of publicity can be defined as a right of mixed nature, having at the same time personal and property aspects.

Principal legal sources

What are the principal legal sources for the right of publicity?

The Greek Constitution assigns to the state the primary obligation to respect and protect human dignity (article 2) and recognises the right of each person to develop freely his or her personality (article 5). Article 28 of the Constitution provides that the generally accepted rules of international law and treaties ratified by the Greek state constitute an integral part of Greek law and prevail over contrary statutory provisions. Greece has ratified the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (4 November 1959) and its Protocols. Article 8 of the Convention protects private and family life.

The right to personality is protected under article 57 of the Greek Civil Code (GCC), which provides that:

A person who has suffered an unlawful offence on his personality has the right to claim the cessation of such offence as well as the non-recurrence thereof in the future. A further claim for damages based on the provisions governing unlawful acts shall not be excluded.

The Greek Penal Code also protects a person’s honour and reputation under articles 361 to 367. Article 361 provides that a person who, by words or acts, injures another’s reputation and the act is not punishable as a slander offence, shall be punished by imprisonment up to six months or pecuniary penalty. If the insult has been committed in public or via the internet shall be published by imprisonment up to one year or pecuniary penalty.


How is the right enforced? Which courts have jurisdiction?

In Greek law there is a distinction between jurisdiction and competence. The first refers to the state’s judicial power in general (eg, in terms of international jurisdiction) or the divisions of judicial authority based on the nature of the matter to be judged (eg, civil, administrative or criminal). The second refers to the allocation of judicial power within the state’s jurisdictional divisions. Civil disputes, such as those emerging from infringement of the right of personality, are dealt with by civil courts. While territorial competence depends on where the defendant is domiciled, the subject-matter competence (of general actions) depends on the amount in contention. Provisional remedies are administered by the single-member competent court of first instance, but can also be administered by a competent court for the claim if the main action has already been filed and served on the defendant; therefore, a hearing of the case will be pending before that court.

Criminal courts might also be competent under articles 361 to 367 of the Penal Code. Jurisdiction in penal matters is essentially based on the territoriality principle; an offence is deemed to have been committed both where the act took place and where the result occurred.

Other relevant rights

Are there other rights or laws that provide a claim based on use of a person’s name, picture, likeness or identifying characteristics?

The right of publicity is recognised under Greek law as a part of the right to personality (Ioannis Karakostas and Christina Vrettou, ‘The Unlawful Intrusion of Personality and the Right of Publicity: comments on Decision No. 4661/2004, in Law No. 2/2006’). Besides article 57 of the GCC, articles 58 and 60 of the same code also provide, accordingly, for the protection of a person’s name and products of his or her intellect, and trademark law (Chapter III of Law No. 4072/2012, as amended) and intellectual property law (Law No. 2121/1993 as amended by Law No. 4212/2013 by which Directive 2011/77/EU has been transposed into Greek law).

Existence of right

Protectable aspects

What aspects of a person’s identity are protectable under the right of publicity?

All aspects of his or her personality that can be economically exploited (eg, a person’s image, name (including pseudonym), voice, etc).

Do individuals need to commercialise their identity to have a protectable right of publicity?

No. The right is based on the principle that each person has a right to self-determination in view of the commercial exploitation of his or her image and other aspects of his or her personality (eg, voice, signature).

Foreign citizens

May a foreign citizen protect a right of publicity under the law of your jurisdiction?

In Greece, there is no distinction between Greek and foreign citizens in terms of judicial protection.

According to article 34 of the GCC: ‘every human being is capable of being the subject of rights and other duties’. Furthermore, article 68 of the Code of Civil Procedure (CCivP) provides that: ‘he who has a direct legal interest may request judicial protection’.

Registration requirements

Is registration or public notice required or permitted for protection of the right? If so, what is the procedure and what are the fees for registration or public notice?

No registration is required under Greek law for the protection of the right, with the exception of trademarks. Should a person consent to the registration of a feature of his or her personality as a trademark, the licensee may apply for its registration according to the provision of article 122 et seq of Law No. 4072/2012.

There are no provisions in Greek law permitting optional registration of a right for the purpose of protecting a person’s right of publicity.

Protection after death

Is the right protected after the individual’s death? For how long? Must the right have been exercised while the individual was alive?

As a right of mixed nature (having personal and property aspects), the right of publicity can be protected after a person’s death.

The right to personality, as a personal right, terminates with death (article 35 of the GCC). However, the GCC provides for the protection of the memory of a deceased person (article 57 of the GCC) and for the name of a person (article 58 of the GCC). The claim may be filed by any close relative of the deceased person who is not necessarily an heir. Hence, the spouse, the children, the siblings and other close relatives may file a claim against anyone violating the memory or offending the name of that person and demand the cessation of the offence, its non-recurrence in the future, compensation as well as moral damages. To that extent, the relatives of the deceased person may forbid or allow the economic exploitation of the name, the image, the signature or other features of that person’s personality. No time limit exists under Greek law for the protection of the right. The Supreme Court, when reviewing Decision No. 626/2010 of the Nafplion Court of Appeal, adjudicated, with Decision No. 525/2014, that the court did not err by accepting that the plaintiff’s personality right had been violated by the unlawful use of her surname (which was the surname of her grandfather that had been registered (in 1952) and used for more than 60 years (from 1905 to 1966) as a trademark) by the defendants for the distinction of products similar to those distinguished in the past with her grandfather’s surname. The right to seek protection is prescribed (see question 20).

Although Greek law does not clearly recognise heirs’ rights stemming from a deceased personality, we are of the opinion that personality features (such as name, image, signature, voice, private life) survive a person’s death and can be economically exploited. If heirs can forbid the use of features of a deceased personality, they may as well allow it. Heirs or third parties to whom such rights had been previously assigned by the deceased may also seek protection according to the law.

There is no need for the right to have been exercised before the person’s death.