Oh dear. Another photographer and two companies with teams of lawyers who should know better are in hot water over the unauthorised use of someone’s image. This time it’s in Georgia; the photographer’s Roger Kirby, the websites are Match.com and HealthCentral, and the woman in question is Anne Read Lattimore. As with any of these stories, it comes in several parts. Are you sitting comfortably? Then I shall relay the sorry tale of the shiny new hair cut and the maybe-less-than-gleaming websites.
When Anne Read Lattimore’s hairdressing salon set up a new website, the owners asked her if she wouldn’t mind having her photo featured on it. Apparently not, as photographer Roger Kirby took her picture at the salon and Read Lattimore agreed to her image being on the website. She didn’t agree to her image being used anywhere else and no paperwork was signed, but so far, things seemed hunky-dory.
It’s hunky-dory until Kirby uploads his photos to Stock.xchng, a free stock image website run by Getty Images. The licence says that the images can’t be used to endorse a product, but somewhere along the way, this appears to have been overlooked or missed.
Before you can say ‘Mark Getty’, Match.com and HealthCentral are using photos that look suspiciously like Read Lattimore to advertise their dating site and to support a story about coming out as a gay person, respectively. Both of these uses might come as a surprise to anyone who knows Read Lattimore: she’s happily married to a man named William. In fact, her friends who saw her advertising Match.com on places like Facebook were mighty surprised. And so was she. Given that she is now suing Kirby, Match.com, and HealthCentral for defamation and misappropriation of likeness, I’m guessing she’s a bit more than surprised.
Fair enough. If I were to find my image being used to advertise a dating site, I’d be mortified. And I’m single. If I were married, I think I might be verging on the livid. It’s not that hard, people. You get the model to sign a model release and you honour its terms.
Or is it that difficult and I’m missing something here?
The papers were filed towards the end of September, so there might be a little way to go yet until we know anymore, but the moral of this story is undoubtedly, use a model release.
(Headsup to Techdirt)