Taxation of image rights in Australia: Key points for athletes from the Brisbane Lions decision

Published 26 October 2017 | Authored by: Cassandra Heilbronn

In Australia, a sportsperson does not have a right of property in their publicity or personality rights. Therefore, to protect any goodwill in their reputation, a sportsperson will generally enter into an agreement granting a non-exclusive licence to a trustee to use and exploit their image.

Two recent decisions handed down in Queensland relating to the Brisbane Lions have shown the importance of ensuring there is a clear separation between payments for use and exploitation of an image, and payments for promotional and marketing services (say through an appearance by a sportsperson).

This article examines:

  • the Brisbane Lions case
  • the Australian Taxation Office’s (ATO) treatment of image rights
  • the need for properly drafted image rights agreements, and 
  • the ATO’s proposed "Safe Harbour" for apportionments

Full reviews of the decisions can be found at the bottom of the article for readers not familiar with the facts. continue reading register here for free


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About the Author

Cassandra Heilbronn

Cassandra Heilbronn

Cassandra is a Senior Associate at MinterEllison, Brisbane in the Insurance and Corporate Risk practice group, focusing on sports law, health law and medical negligence, and management liability.

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