Last week, a judge rejected Getty’s motion to dismiss a case where Getty used a model’s image without a model release.
Last year, a lawsuit was brought up against major image powerhouse, Getty Images, for using the image of model, Avril Nolan, for an ad about HIV. The ad, which states, “I Am Positive (+)…I Have Rights,” next to Nolan’s image, appeared in a free New York newspaper. It seemingly implies that Nolan, who is a healthy 25 year old woman, is HIV positive.
Last September, Nolan filed a lawsuit against Getty for $450,000 for improperly using her image in the ads, damaging her personal and professional relationships as well as causing emotional distress. Nolan was alerted to the ad by a friend and was “mortified.” (Can you blame her?) She works in the P.R. field, and the ad, in a paper whom many of her agencies’ clients use as well, forced her to have some awkward conversations with her bosses.
The photo was from a fashion shoot with photographer, Jena Cumbo, who states that she “made a mistake” and did not understand her contract with Getty. Nolan did not sign a model release. New York had strict laws prohibiting the use of a person or likeness for advertising or trade without written consent. Getty released the following statement following the lawsuit,
We empathize with and understand the sensitivity of Avril Nolan’s situation. Getty Images had a model release and relied upon the photographer’s documentation when we made the image available for license.
Getty who requested that the case be thrown out due to the “First Amendment and other grounds.” The judge ruled against Getty’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit and the case will go to trial.
What do you think? Does the model have a case? Is Getty in the wrong?
This is a good reminder to photographers to ALWAYS have our clients sign a model release for our protection and theirs. If you don’t have a model release, you can see our Model Release Form Template and Crowd Photo Release Form can be located in our Photographer Resources.