Sunday, May 4, 2008

Image Misuse

I'm still amazed that some people think it's totally fine to use any imagery they want without the proper releases. Another example of a big legal issue (similar to Woody Allen vs. American Apparel) has arisen. This time it's Lindsey Lohan and the American Beverage Institute. The ad above ran in USA Today this past Friday... with her mug shot. And the American Beverage Institute somehow is amazed that her lawyers are filing suit. I looked at this and my first thought was.. duh!

Again it is the issue with an editorial image running in a commercial manner. I am not a lawyer by any means, but my basic understanding is that no matter what, if an image is used in a commercial manner or advertising for a specific product or promotion of a message it needs to have the proper clearances, i.e. talent releases, property releases, photographer approval, etc. Just because it is a google image or an editorial image does not mean that it is available for public use.

Not only does this advertisement have an odd message but the American Beverage Institute claims that they are well within their right to use the image. “People magazine, Smoking Gun and a lot of people have republished this mug shot,” said Longwell. “It was publicly accessible. We’re not using it for any kind of commercial gain. So we’re well within our rights to use it.” (see the full article on here).

While the actual photo may be in public domain because it is a mug shot, she certainly is not especially since her image is so well known.