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Evaluation Of The Child Actors Rights Within The Scope Of The Turkish Law On Intellectual And Artistic Works

Evaluation Of The Child Actors Rights Within The Scope Of The Turkish Law On Intellectual And Artistic Works

ABSTRACT

The media sector is one of the most dynamic areas with enormous economic valuations, and local, regional and international practices are very close to each other with the development of technology. In a sector with such a high level of interest and expectation, there are many discussions in terms of the application of the law. The media sector is a mixed subject covered by many legal fields in terms of its nature, rules, and public and civil law sanctions on various fronts. In addition to being multifaceted in legal terms, the fact that national and regional rules have to be intertwined makes it necessary to make legal evaluations in this sector from a global perspective. 

One of the most important issues in the media sector is the accurate positioning of rights and the execution of transactions based on rights in accordance with the law. As a result, many both civil and criminal sanctions, may be imposed due to improper positioning of rights and subsequent transactions based on improper rights. 

In this article, the comparison of personality rights under the Turkish Civil Code No. 4721 (‘TMK’) and moral rights in the context of the Turkish Law on Intellectual and Artistic Works No.5846 (‘LIAW’) will be conducted by considering international practices, and current issues related to economic/moral rights, especially regarding child actors, will be discussed. 

  1. Current Practices in the Media Sector Regarding Child Actors In media practice, actors’ consents are obtained in the widest possible manner. In particular, considering the differences in international rights systems, global media companies aim to obtain the rights as broadly (indefinitely, in the entire universe, in a way that can be used by third parties, sub-licensable and/or transferable in any scope, without any additional fee, exclusively, unconditionally irrevocably) as possible. 

In Turkey, LIAW Art. 21-25 defines the rights of adaptation, reproduction, distribution, performance and communication of the work to the public by means of signs, sound and/or image transmission are subject to consent agreements and economic right transfer declarations by enumerating the contents one by one as much as possible (e.g. for the processing right, “the right to be used with different works for any purpose, to be synchronised with any auditory element by integration into all kinds of hardware, software, programs, to be shortened, extended, edited, used partially or completely, including the right of adaptation”). In the context of moral rights, the right of public performance (LIAW Art. 14), the right to be identified as the author (indication of name) (LIAW Art. 15), the right of prohibition of modification of the work (LIAW Art. 16) the right to prevent the work from being destroyed/degraded (LIAW Art. 17) are subjected in consent agreements. 

In ordinary practice, both the production companies and the media companies owning the channels/digital platforms do not make any distinction in the case of child actors and only obtain the consent of the parent/guardian of the child actor, taking into account the custody/guardianship relationship, and do not obtain any written consent separately from the child himself/herself

II. The Relationship between Moral Rights and Personality Rights in the Context of LIAW

In the contracts signed with child actors, there are mostly provisions regarding the transfer of the use of moral rights as well as the transfer of economic rights within the framework of LIAW. The moral rights in question are the rights of the author against persons who own or process the work, the right of public performance, the right to specify the name, the right to prohibit modification of the work in Art. 14 and the following provisions. These rights are similar to the personality rights regulated under Art. 23 et seq. of the Turkish Civil Code. For this reason, the relationship between these two categories of rights causes discussions not only in Turkish law, but also at the international level. First of all, in the countries where the Copyright system is adopted, the rights on the work, do not belong to the creator of the work, but to the person who bears the financial risk in the process of creating the work. The existence of the personality elements of the creator of the work on the work does not have any legal importance, the personality right on the work has been taken into consideration partially and in different ways in these legal systems over time. In continental European and Turkish law, the creator of the work (driot d’autor) system has been adopted. In addition to the property elements of the creator of the work, the personality elements are also reflected on the work. Regarding the explanation of intellectual property rights within this system, there are monist and dualist approaches. According to the monist approach, the tangible and intangible elements of intellectual property rights are considered as a single right. In other words, the economic rights on the work and the personality elements melted in the same pot. According to the dualist approach, although there is no clear line, the financial and personality elements appear as different elements that are distinguished from each other as a rule. The dualist theory is adopted in the Turkish legal system.

However, the relationship between moral rights and personality rights is controversial in the doctrine. Indeed, there are authorities who state that moral rights are within the scope of the values protected within the framework of personality rights. On the other hand, another approach states that these two rights are different from each other. As a justification, it is stated that not all moral rights are aimed at the protection of personality, and within the framework of moral rights, the creator of the work is protected through his/her work, not directly. In addition, while there is a mutual dependency relationship between moral rights and economic rights, there will not be such a dependency relationship regarding personality. The Turkish Court of Cassation has also stated in some of its decisions that the violation of moral rights does not constitute a direct violation of personality rights. However, it is still accepted that there is a similarity with the rights on the work, especially in terms of rights such as the picture, voice, name of the person whose personality values are reflected. 

The practical implications of this theoretical debate are significant. If indeed, the right to exercise the moral right within the context of LIAW has been transferred in a valid and lawful manner, the question of whether the interventions regarding the right of personality should also be authorised or not will come to the question. Especially within the framework of the right of dissemination to the public, there is no doubt that this activity also involves the elements of the personality right such as the picture, image, and voice of the person. If the view that moral rights and personality rights are different from each other is accepted, in other words, if the intellectual rights on the picture, image, voice and name of the actor and the personality right are different from each other, the transfer of the right of use of these rights, their use by other persons and the approval of the interventions against them should be subject to different legal evaluations in terms of both types of rights.

On the other hand, in the context of the view that equates moral rights with personality rights, the transfer of moral rights should also legitimize the interventions to personality rights. However, whether it is accepted that the transfer of the use of the moral right and the consent to the interference with the right of personality with a single contract is accepted, or whether the view that these should be realized with two different transactions is adopted, in any case, a special evaluation will be required in terms of the rights closely connected to the person in the case of child actors. As a matter of fact, such rights cannot be subject to representation as a rule. Therefore, if the transfer of the use of the moral right will simultaneously mean consent to the interference with the right of personality and the use of the rights strictly attached to the person is in question, the transactions carried out within this framework will need to be examined specifically in terms of the capacity to act. 

III. Capacity to Act 

The capacity to act can be defined as the power of a person to personally exercise the rights arising from private law and to create rights and obligations regulated by private law in favour of or against himself/herself through his/her own actions. However, there is not a single view of the capacity to act. The capacity to act includes different kinds of competences such as the capacity for legal transactions, the capacity for savings, the capacity for torts and the capacity for litigation. 

Legal capacity is the persons’ ability to perform legal transactions in person. A legal transaction is a legal fact arising from the expression of will for the realisation of a certain result envisaged by the legal order. The capacity to dispose is the power of a person to have direct effects on his/her rights through his/her own actions. The capacity to be responsible for wrongful acts is the capacity of a person to be held personally responsible for the damages caused to others as a result of acts contrary to the rules of law. Litigation capacity is the power of a person to appear in courts as a plaintiff or defendant in person or through his/her appointed attorney, and to use the rights related to the judicial law and to perform the judicial law transactions such as confession, oath, settlement, acceptance, etc. in person. It should be noted that each of these capacities may be subject to different conditions. Indeed, while legal transaction capacity requires the power of discernment and the condition of puberty, the power of discernment may be sufficient for tort capacity.

Similarly, although the capacity to act is not the same for each person, there are different degrees of capacity to act. Therefore, firstly, it will be determined which degrees of the capacity to act will be in question in terms of the concrete examination. As a result, the transactions performed within the framework of different degrees of capacity to act will be discussed. 

IV. Level of Capacity to Act

In terms of the levels of capacity to act, our legal order has adopted a quadruple distinction that consists of full capacity, limited capacity, limited incapacity, and incapacitated persons.

Accordingly, persons who have the power of discernment and are adults and who are not restricted at the same time have full capacity. Persons who have the power of discernment, who are adult and not subject to any restriction, but whose ability to perform certain legal transactions is limited, are considered to have limited capacity. Persons who have the power of discernment, but who are not adults, are defined as limited incapacitated persons, and finally, persons who lack the power of discernment are defined as fully incapacitated. The important issue under the concrete examination is the transactions carried out by limited incapacitated persons and full incapacitated persons. 

V. Analysis in terms of Full Incompetents 

The legal transactions made by the incapacitated persons on their own are null and void. Similarly, since they are deprived of the power of discernment, they do not have the capacity to act in tort, since it is not possible for them to act negligently. Likewise, they do not have the capacity to sue. Therefore, for the incapacitated person to create a legally valid transaction, this transaction must be carried out by the legal representative. 

However, there are some exceptions in the law. For instance, even though the marriage of a person who lacks full capacity is null and void, it is accepted in family law that such marriages are valid unless annulled by a court decision (Art. 145(2), 156 of the TCC). Similarly, deathdependent dispositions made by a person who lacks the power of discernment shall be annulled only by filing an action for annulment. In addition, there are exceptions regarding the transactions performed by incapacitated persons under Articles 517, 528 and 582 of the Turkish Code of Obligations No. 6098 (‘TCO’). In tort law, it will be exceptionally possible to hold the incapacitated person liable according to Article 65 of the TCO.

However, it will be necessary to make a special evaluation in terms of rights strictly attached to the person. In the doctrine, rights strictly dependent on the person are defined as rights where the decision to use the right is taken only by the right holder and the decision to use the right is taken by the personal will of the right holder8. As a rule, it is not possible for someone else to be empowered to decide on the exercise of rights strictly attached to the person. 

Therefore, rights strictly attached to the person are closely related to personality, and the decision to exercise the right by someone else contradicts the concept of personality. What should be understood from the obligation to exercise the rights strictly attached to the person personally is that the decision to exercise the right must be taken by the right holder personally. In other words, representation is not possible at the stage of taking the decision on the exercise of rights strictly attached to the person. 

It is not possible for persons without full capacity to exercise the rights strictly attached to the person personally or through their legal representative within the framework of Article 16 of the TCC. In addition, except for the exceptions specified in the law, the legal transactions of incapacitated persons do not have legal consequences in accordance with Article 15 of the TCC. For this reason, in the doctrine, the transactions made by the incapacitated person are subject to the sanction of definitive nullity. The sanction of definitive nullity is also valid for the exercise of the rights strictly attached to the person, since no distinction is made in Article 15 of the TCC. Therefore, the exercise of the rights strictly attached to the person by the incapacitated persons does not result in a legal consequence. 

However, the acceptance of this view implies that the incapacitated persons will not be able to exercise their rights strictly attached to the person in any way, and therefore they will be deprived of these rights. In this case, the incapacitated persons will be deprived of even the capacity to exercise rights, because if the rights in question cannot be exercised in any way, the existence of these rights can no longer be mentioned. For this reason, it is accepted in the doctrine that it is possible for the legal representative to exercise some strictly personal rights on behalf of the incapacitated person. 

However, the issue of which strictly personal rights can be exercised through the legal representative is controversial. The predominant opinion accepted in the doctrine is that the rights strictly dependent on the person are divided into absolute and relative rights, and the relative rights strictly dependent on the person can be exercised by the legal representative on behalf of the incapacitated person. The relevant opinion states that the relative rights strictly dependent on the person include material / moral compensation claims arising from the violation of personal rights, legalisation, objection to recognition and adoption. The rights strictly attached to the person other than the aforementioned rights (i.e., engagement, marriage, dissolution of engagement, some grounds for annulment of marriage, divorce, denial of paternity, recognition, filing a paternity action, making deathrelated dispositions) are of absolute nature and cannot be exercised by the incapacitated person or legal representative under any circumstances. 

However, although there is no explicit regulation in the law, the practice of the Court of Cassation is in the direction that some grounds for divorce can be filed by the legal representative on behalf of the incapacitated person. 

VI. Transactions Performed by Persons with Limited Capacity 

1. Transactions They Can Perform on Their Own

According to the second sentence of paragraph (1) of Article 16 of the TCC, the transactions that limited incapacitated persons can perform on their own, i.e. without the need for their legal representatives, are gratuitous acquisitions and the exercise of rights strictly attached to the person. Therefore, transactions that impose obligations on the limited incapacitated person and transactions that show their effects on the rights of the limited incapacitated person are subject to the consent of the legal representative. 

2. Analysis in terms of Rights Closely Attached to the Person 

The second sentence of paragraph (1) of Article 16 of the TCC states that the consent of the legal representatives is not necessary for the limited incapacitated persons to exercise the rights strictly attached to the person. Therefore, rights strictly attached to the person may be exercised by the limited incapacitated person personally. 

In the legal doctrine, a dual distinction is made in terms of the exercise (and renunciation of the exercise) of the rights strictly attached to the person. The first distinction is that some rights strictly attached to the person can only be exercised by the limited incapacitated person. The second distinction is that some strictly personal rights may be exercised with the participation of the legal representative and/or with the permission of the guardianship authority due to the obligation arising from the law. 

There is no definition on which rights are strictly personal rights in the TCC. In the doctrine, only examples of the rights strictly attached to the person that can be exercised by the limited incapacitated person. These rights are: Actions for determination and prohibition protecting the right of personality, various surgeries and medical interventions performed on the body of the person, actions for non-pecuniary damages filed based on the provisions of Articles 24-25 of the TCC, actions for the protection of the name, forgiveness of the adulterous spouse, making a will, denial of paternity, paternity action, relative nullity and annulment of marriage, breaking the engagement, request for removal of guardianship, and the right to file a complaint against the guardian. In addition, it should also be recognised that the right to express themselves is a strictly personal right in accordance with Article 12 of the Convention on the Children Rights. 

However, there are different opinions in the doctrine, especially in the context of the consent of the victim, which eliminates the illegality. According to one opinion, as a rule, a person with limited incapacities is also competent to give consent if he/she has the power of discernment. In this framework, the capacity to distinguish will be evaluated according to the importance of the transaction to which consent is given.

However, even if the limited incapacities person has the power of appeal, he/she will not be able to consent to attempts that are likely to have harmful consequences on his/her bodily integrity if the legal representative persistently resists. Another doctrinal approach states that there is no longer any question of representation or the consent of the legal representative since there is a right strictly attached to the person here, and finally, a third opinion argues that the participation of the legal representative will be beneficial in terms of important medical interventions. 

For the limited incapacitated person to exercise some rights strictly connected to the person, the participation of the legal representative and/or the permission of the guardianship authority/supervisory authority is required. These rights are stated in the doctrine as follows: Marriage, divorce, declaration of maturity, change of name, correction of age, adoption or being adopted, recognition of the child, making/revoking inheritance contract, acceptance/rejection of inheritance, making property regime contract, naturalisation or renunciation of citizenship, as per Art. 3/III of the Law on Associations, establishing a children’s association or membership of a children’s association in order to contribute to the development of children with the power of discernment who have completed the age of fifteen in accordance with Art. 3/III of the Law on Associations, membership of children who have completed the age of twelve in children’s associations (provided that they do not take part in the management and supervisory boards) in accordance with Art. 3/IV of the Law on Associations, the right to request restriction based on the provisions of Art. 405- 406 of the TCC. The principle of limited number is valid for the examples. The examples constitute an exception to the rule that the limited incapacitated person under guardianship in respect to Art. 16 of the TCC can personally realise the rights strictly attached to the person, and the exceptions should be interpreted narrowly, although it is not possible to make an analogy. As a rule, there is no formal requirement for the authorisation to be given by the legal representative. However, the permission to be given for marriage must be in writing pursuant to Art. 136 of the TCC. In addition, pursuant to Art. 3 of the Law on Associations, it is stated that the permission must be given in writing by the legal representative. 

Limited incapacitated persons under guardianship have the capacity to sue in cases related to the rights strictly attached to the person. For this reason, they can personally carry out the proceedings regarding the followup of the lawsuit and the execution of the judgement. Pursuant to the Unification Decision of the Court of Cassation, limited incapacitated persons under guardianship have the right to sue and complain about the crimes committed against their personality. 

3. Prohibited Transactions

Some transactions are prohibited even with the participation of the legal representative. These are making significant donations, becoming a guarantor, establishing a foundation, and undertaking non-competition obligations. 

VI. Transactions Performed by Persons with Limited Capacity

 In the light of all these general explanations made in the context of the capacity to act, the child actors’ consents will be evaluated. In this framework, firstly, a distinction will be made between full and limited incapacitated persons, and then the legal transactions related to both groups and the transactions related to the use of rights strictly connected to the person will be analysed. However, it is useful to briefly examine the subject matter and content of the relevant consents. Within this framework, the transfer of the main and neighboring rights specified in Art. 21-25 and Art. 80 of LIAW is generally agreed upon. In addition, the transfer of the right to use moral rights is often the subject of these agreements. It should be noted that, if there is a commitment of asset rights transfer, the capacity to perform legal transactions and disposals will need to be examined. However, at the same time, consent to the use of personal rights such as the child actor’s picture/image, name and voice will also be in question. For this reason, consent to interference with personal property rights will need to be examined in terms of capacity to act. 

1. Examination in terms of Fully Incompetents

It is not possible for full incompetents to carry out any transaction that may have consequences in the legal aspect. For this purpose, their legal representatives are required to act on their behalf. 

Within the scope of the letters of consent, it is possible for persons to make disposals regarding certain property rights and, simultaneously and simultaneously, personal property rights. It is possible for the legal representative to act on behalf of the incapacitated person in the disposals related to assets, and the transactions made will be accepted as valid as long as the relevant conditions are satisfied, and the right of custody is not abused. 

In terms of the use of image and name rights, there will be strictly personalised rights. In this framework, although different opinions have been put forward in the doctrine, the right to the image and name of the person is not characterised as a right strictly attached to the person in absolute terms. Therefore, the academic approach that representation is not possible in absolute rights that are strictly attached to the person will not come to the question under the legal evaluation. 

As stated above, it is possible for the legal representative to carry out transactions on behalf of the incapacitated person and to make disposals on these rights that are strictly connected to the person. However, especially in the context of medical interventions, which are a special view of interventions on the right to personality, it is not possible for the legal representative to give consent indiscriminately, and in this context, the condition of “superior private benefit” of the fully incapacitated person is sought. If this criterion is to be sought in terms of dispositions on other personality rights, it will be completely impossible for legal representatives to make transactions on the rights such as pictures, images or names on behalf of minors who lack the power of discernment, and even a trustee’s appointment will be required. In our opinion, the integrity of life and body are the most valuable elements of the right to personality and therefore all kinds of interventions should be subject to strict control. On the other hand, the picture and image of the person is a part of the right to personality, in today’s technological age, it will not be subject to as strict protection as the integrity of the body. On the contrary, an approach to the contrary would render the photographs and videos taken by mobile phones every day and shared in many different media illegitimately. Therefore, in transactions related to personal rights such as pictures, images or names, the legal representative should be able to make transactions on behalf of the incapacitated person, unless it is contrary to the interests of the child and especially as long as it is within the scope of the right of custody. 

2. Analysis in terms of Persons with Limited Incapacity

There is no hesitation that the consent or approval of their legal representatives is needed in terms of legal transactions, since the persons with limited capacity do not have the capacity for legal transactions in any case. However even the consent of the legal representative cannot make these transactions valid in regard to making important donations, becoming a guarantor, establishing a foundation, and undertaking non-competition obligations. 

In the context of rights strictly connected to the person, it shall be analyzed carefully whether the limited incapacitated person has the ability to anticipate the consequences of the transaction. In this framework, unlike the interventions on the body’s integrity, the person with the limited capacity to act in terms of his/her rights strictly connected to the person shall be carefully examined to ensure that he/she has the ability to predict the consequences of the transaction. In this respect, unlike the interventions on the bodily integrity, the consent to the use of the rights on the picture, image or name, as stated above, does not require the consent of the legal representative since it is not a severe intervention. 

VIII. Conclusion 

Child actors may be characterised as limited incompetent if they have the power of discernment, and as fully incompetent if they do not yet have the power of discernment. While determining the power of discernment, the scope, nature and the ability to anticipate the consequences of the transaction carried out by the child in terms of the specific case shall be taken as basis. 

In general, consent deeds are related to the transfer of property rights. In such cases, legal representation will come to the agenda for both fully incapacitated and limited incapacitated persons. It is possible for the legal representative to carry out the transfer transactions that are within the limits of the right of custody and do not qualify as prohibited transactions on behalf of the child. 

In terms of consenting to interference with personal property rights, especially consenting to the use of rights on pictures, images, names or voices, it should be taken into consideration that these can be characterised as rights strictly attached to the person. In this framework, it is controversial whether legal representation is possible for limited incapacitated persons. Nevertheless, the predominant view, which argues that it is possible to consent to the interference with personal rights, seeks the best interests of the child in interventions on bodily integrity. However, such a condition is not required for the dispositions made on pictures, images or names, which are other elements of personality rights. In our opinion, within this framework, it should be possible for legal representatives to give consent on behalf of the fully incapacitated person, unless it is contrary to the interests of the child and exceeds the limits of the right of custody. 

For persons with limited incapacity, legal representation does not come to the issue in the light of the explicit legal provision on the exercise of the rights strictly attached to the person. Therefore, these rights must be exercised personally by the person with limited incapacity. In other words, the legal representative cannot carry out transactions on behalf of the limited incapacitated person at the point of exercising the rights strictly attached to the person, and especially cannot use the power of representation contrary to the will of the person with limited incapacity

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