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01-11-2015, 07:29 PM   #1
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Photographer sued for $500K by model

Murphy at work - what ever can go wrong - will.... Even with a signed model release, you can get sued. A tale of woe. I am also sure that there is more to the story.


01-11-2015, 07:35 PM   #2
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Wow, cast a wide net is an understatement.
01-11-2015, 07:42 PM   #3
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(Model) Forni says she learned about it only from family and friends who spotted her on Playboy’s Web site “and eventually the Web site of the other adult-photo companies.”

Gee, friends and family looked at porn - and found you.
01-11-2015, 07:56 PM   #4
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That chick is HOT.

OHH---EMMMM---GEE....

01-11-2015, 08:55 PM   #5
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Wow I hope he has insurance...
01-12-2015, 01:40 AM   #6
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If you're interested you can read the claim as filed here:
http://digitalcommons.law.scu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1732&context=historical
Go straight to page 12 and read the facts. Note this is the model's version of events. Clauses 36-38 mean that the oral assurances that the photos wouldn't be used in association with porn arguably form part of the written contract (ie the release). It looks like a breach of contract case which happens to involve a photographer rather than one which argues strict liability of a photographer for any unauthorised use of photos he or she may take. I'm out of jurisdiction so don't rely on this.
01-12-2015, 01:56 AM   #7
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As a lawyer and university lecturer of my acquaintance was fond of saying: "Within the law, there is a presumption against absurdity". Now, that obviously presumes a fair and uncorrupted judicial process, and I can't speak for the system this case is playing out in. The absurdity in this case, though, is the pledge that the images would not be abused. The only pledge the hapless photographer could be expected to maintain is one that he had direct control over, and he clearly lost control when he passed the images over to the agency and the model. Once that control was lost, he had no power to ensure the images would not be abused, so any such pledge would be rendered void. Nonetheless, it will be interesting to see how this ends.
01-12-2015, 03:21 AM   #8
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Gary Fong to the rescue?

01-12-2015, 03:29 AM   #9
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Absurd! Poor guy!
01-12-2015, 04:41 AM - 1 Like   #10
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Depending on how things actually go, this might turn out alright for him, eventually - maybe....
  • If things are as he claims, he can probably request/demand to be dropped from the lawsuit. Counter sue for legal fees. If the images can be traced to the model's facebook page, I would believe that he can sue her till the cows come home.
  • If the images are traced to the stock site, and he was not paid, then the stock site is responsible.
  • If the model actually realizes any money from anyone else, he can also sue them also for copyright violations. I would have to assume that if he posted any images on a stock site, that they would be registered, so he should be able to claim damages and legal fees.
In the meantime, he probably has at least a couple of years of legal headaches ahead of him...

01-12-2015, 08:27 AM   #11
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What did his model release say? Does it specifically mention selling adult movies? As I have understood other articles on this, the issue was that her photograph is being used to sell porn in which she does not participate. Pictures: How Nicole Forni, model unwittingly became the face of adult film sites This is a very interesting question. As a business lawyer, I have defended too many fraud suits to be comfortable with a release for use in selling something to which a model might take great exception unless it were specifically mentioned.

It seems like a bit of fraud and false advertising as well to put her on advertisements for a move, unless she is in the movie.I wonder what his deal was with the stock photo agency? Just a question for those in the photo business, under your standard model release, would including "stock photos" mean that whoever bought the photo could use it to advertise as thought the model would perform acts of bestiality? How about "sexy, but bloodthirsty, terrorists?" Where is the limit of "stock" photography?

---------- Post added 01-12-15 at 08:50 AM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by hjoseph7 Quote
Wow I hope he has insurance...
If I were guessing, I would say that he may not be the main target, but they include him to get his cooperation against the other parties and prevent those parties from blaming him.

Last edited by GeneV; 01-12-2015 at 08:41 AM.
01-12-2015, 09:42 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by GeneV Quote
What did his model release say? Does it specifically mention selling adult movies? As I have understood other articles on this, the issue was that her photograph is being used to sell porn in which she does not participate. Pictures: How Nicole Forni, model unwittingly became the face of adult film sites This is a very interesting question. As a business lawyer, I have defended too many fraud suits to be comfortable with a release for use in selling something to which a model might take great exception unless it were specifically mentioned.

It seems like a bit of fraud and false advertising as well to put her on advertisements for a move, unless she is in the movie.I wonder what his deal was with the stock photo agency? Just a question for those in the photo business, under your standard model release, would including "stock photos" mean that whoever bought the photo could use it to advertise as thought the model would perform acts of bestiality? How about "sexy, but bloodthirsty, terrorists?" Where is the limit of "stock" photography?

---------- Post added 01-12-15 at 08:50 AM ----------



If I were guessing, I would say that he may not be the main target, but they include him to get his cooperation against the other parties and prevent those parties from blaming him.
Isn't there an issue of general adult understanding that enters into this? Lawyers can help me out here, or shoot me down, but she posed for provocative photos in her underwear and signed a release for them to be used commercially. What possible commercial use would those provocative photos have other than the use to which they were ultimately put?
01-12-2015, 10:21 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by dcshooter Quote
I'm sure that his lawyer is making this argument as we speak, but the real question is whether a 23 year old model in Cleveland could reasonably expect that posing for some tamish lingerie shots in what was represented as an unpaid "portfolio swap" with a local photographer would lead to her being advertised as a prostitute in the Czech Republic, or a "Horny Housewife of Dubai" on the cover of a nationally-distributed porno video (these are actual uses she names in the suit!) - especially when the extent of her conversation with the photog was likely "I just need you to sign this release. Don't worry, it's just standard boilerplate." Even if he actually did say to her he would be selling it for stock, his alleged assurances to her that she would be protected by ShutterStock's TOS were, in retrospect, obviously meaningless.

Like I said, his best recourse is likely to sue Shutterstock himself to cover his damages and costs, but if he did make those assurances, they are part of the contract, and if the images were taken from ShutterStock, he's responsible for making sure that those assurances are enforced and is liable to her for damages caused by not doing so. And if he went into it fully intending not to enforce those promises, then he did fraudulently induce her, and he is also probably liable for false light defamation, since his actions constitute reckless disregard for her reputation.
I appreciate your detailed answer. I do think that its reasonable to foresee their use in such a context (perhaps not as extensively or far flung as they were) in this day and age with repeated stories in the national media of kids (12-14) taking nude selfies that get passed around. I can't conceive of a use not covered by her suit that those photos would be put to if, and its a big if, he actually told her they were to be sold for stock. One more question, if he sues Shutterstock for failure to enforce their TOS isn't that all he could reasonably be expected to do in trying to make sure that his assurances were enforced?
01-12-2015, 11:51 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by Docrwm Quote
Isn't there an issue of general adult understanding that enters into this? Lawyers can help me out here, or shoot me down, but she posed for provocative photos in her underwear and signed a release for them to be used commercially. What possible commercial use would those provocative photos have other than the use to which they were ultimately put?
Photos of sexy women scantily clad are used to sell all kinds of fairly benign things now. That may have been her understanding. I remember going to a car show a while back and snapping as many photos of women in bikinis as I did of cars.

Representing or implying that she is a prostitute, a stripper or will be featured in a pornographic movie may be a little different. There is some implication that she is not just a pretty face associated with the product, but that her body is the product being sold. It is a fascinating legal question just what is understood under "stock" photography.

Note that the photographer is only one of many being sued. I would expect an indemnity claim as mentioned above by the photographer against others.

Last edited by GeneV; 01-12-2015 at 12:30 PM.
01-14-2015, 07:21 AM   #15
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Unless the model can prove the photographer willfully sold or gave the photos to an end-user knowing they would be used in the fashions alleged, this should eventually get dropped because the model is suing the wrong person in suing the photographer and perhaps in suing Shutterstock. The photographer is in possession of a signed model release, (notwithstanding claims of coercion which on their face are suspect considering the model's body of similar work). Shutterstock should be protected by their TOS which clearly prohibits the use of the images in pornographic/defamatory uses. Neither the photographer or Shutterstock has any final control over the use of the images if the end-users have either stolen or misrepresented their intended use (violating both the model release AND the TOS). The misuse and misrepresentation was/is being perpetrated by the book/magazine publishers or the parties placing the ads. Frankly, the model, the photographer and Shutterstock should be cooperating to sue those parties (many of which will have much deeper pockets) for misusing the photographs they produced and marketed together.

QuoteOriginally posted by GeneV Quote
Representing or implying that she is a prostitute, a stripper or will be featured in a pornographic movie may be a little different. There is some implication that she is not just a pretty face associated with the product, but that her body is the product being sold. It is a fascinating legal question just what is understood under "stock" photography.
That's a "false light" claim Gene and is generally actionable against the party making the implication, in this case the book/magazine publishers as well as the parties placing the ads. As long as there was no intent by the photographer to portray a model, who is not a prostitute, AS a prostitute (for instance) he should be immune from any judgements on this claim. Of course, if she really IS a prostitute, she has no "false light" case to begin with.

Last edited by MRRiley; 01-14-2015 at 07:52 AM.
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