Billboard Model Sues Filmmakers, Because Her Billboard Appears For 12 Seconds In The Movie

from the loss-of-reputation? dept

The world is going crazy. Last year, we wrote about the bizarre job of some movie industry lawyers who have to go through films to make sure no brands appear in the film that haven't given express approval. It's an example of the ridiculousness of the "permission" society we now live in, where everything is covered by copyright and even having something appear in the background of a film can count as a copyright or trademark infringement in the minds of many.

Michael Scott points us to the news that a model named Angelyne, who appears in some billboard advertisements, is suing the makers of the film Notorious, because one of her billboards appears in the film for approximately 12-seconds "without prior consent." I can't see how this wouldn't be fair use, but with the US courts, you never know. Still, in the lawsuit, she claims that because of the billboard being in the film, she suffered "loss of reputation and standing in the community." You know what else might create loss of reputation or standing in the community? Filing ridiculous copyright lawsuits against moviemakers who happened to catch your billboard which was on display out in public.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    icon
    Ima Fish (profile), Jan 6th, 2010 @ 1:44pm

    Unfortunately they'll settle the case, five her a few bucks, give her attorneys a few more buck, rather than fight this BS.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    icon
    PopeHilarius (profile), Jan 6th, 2010 @ 1:44pm

    There's also the obvious point that it's a billboard. It’s an advertisement whose entire purpose is getting incidental views. Wouldn’t appearing in a movie be making it more effective? The mind boggles.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    icon
    LostSailor (profile), Jan 6th, 2010 @ 2:20pm

    Other considerations

    While this may be a stupid suit, it doesn't mean the process of clearing brands, copyrights, and trademarks doesn't have other valid justifications.

    One example is that studios often solicit money for use of brands in films. If the films aren't scrutinized for inadvertent use of unauthorized brands, beyond potential trademark and copyright issues, it would diminish the market for selling brand appearances in films.

    On the flip side, for example, if in a film a sign promoting Techdirt with Mike's photo on it is easily seen in the background of a scene depicting graphic child rape and murder, you would likely have an excellent case that such use of your trademarked name (assuming for the moment it is trademarked) and your image has caused you damage in the community by associating it with an image of an heinous crime. Beyond trademark and copyright issues (which might be your best course of action) there are violations of rights of privacy, publicity, and the doctrine of "casting in false light" that could be involved.

    It's not always so black and white.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    icon
    a-dub (profile), Jan 6th, 2010 @ 2:26pm

    Isn't this backwards? Shouldn't she be thanking the film makers? Every time I see a can of soda in a movie, I wonder how much they paid the film makers for the advertising. This is ridiculous. Pretty soon municipalities will charge for the city's skyline...pathetic.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    icon
    Derek Bredensteiner (profile), Jan 6th, 2010 @ 2:33pm

    Re: Other considerations

    "... if in a film a sign promoting Techdirt with Mike's photo on it is easily seen in the background of a scene depicting graphic child rape and murder, you would likely have an excellent case that such use of your trademarked name (assuming for the moment it is trademarked) and your image has caused you damage in the community by associating it with an image of an heinous crime."

    Even in this case, is the best solution suing over such defamation? Is it worthwhile and effective to make a law to cover such things explicitly (putting peoples faces next to heinous crimes)? Is that something that's enforceable/determinable or even necessary to enforce?

    If I call Mike (or you) a baby raporist (or make a film implying such) then whose reputation is more harmed, his or mine?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    identicon
    DS, Jan 6th, 2010 @ 2:43pm

    Re: Other considerations

    "On the flip side, for example, if in a film a sign promoting Techdirt with Mike's photo on it is easily seen in the background of a scene depicting graphic child rape and murder, you would likely have an excellent case that such use of your trademarked name (assuming for the moment it is trademarked) and your image has caused you damage in the community by associating it with an image of an heinous crime"

    So, if you see two things next to each other, you instantaneously assume that they are associated?

    Do you normally stand next to a child?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 6th, 2010 @ 2:47pm

    Angelyne is a local joke around Hollywood. She drives a pink Corvette, which she double-parks in fire zones in front of shopping malls, just because she can, and the sad thing is, she thinks she's some big-shot. She's also freaking ugly frightening when you see her up close, someone who didn't age well at all.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    cc, Jan 6th, 2010 @ 2:53pm

    What I don't get is, what is the actual billboard for? Is it some cig ad of some sort?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    identicon
    Doctor Doom, Jan 6th, 2010 @ 2:54pm

    US film giants appeal in file-sharing case

    US film giants appeal in file-sharing case
    Published: 6 Jan 10 12:28 CET


    In a corporate David and Goliath-style case, a Stockholm-based internet operator is fighting a file-sharing lawsuit against a collective of large US film companies.

    A list of 14 companies, including Disney Enterprises, Universal Studios and Paramount Pictures, have lodged an appeal to force Swedish broadband operator Portlane to shut-down a so-called tracker, a device they state is being used illegally to simplify file-sharing.

    In early December, Stockholm District Court denied the film companies’ demands and concluded that Portlane’s main business activity, supplying internet access, could not be considered as a contribution to copyright infringement.

    The movie moguls are now countering the court’s decision. They claim that by offering bandwidth along with the tracker it is simpler to find and download illegal files via the internet.

    An appeal was consequently lodged before Christmas and the case will now be heard in Sweden’s Court of Appeal.

    According to an article in Wednesday’s Svenska Dagbladet, Portlane’s tracker is suspected of replacing a device from the controversial Swedish file-sharing site The Pirate Bay.

    The film companies state that Portlane has not done enough to put a stop to suspected file-sharing and the operator must therefore take responsibility.

    For the less technologically-minded, the appeal document uses an analogy which compares Portlane’s actions to a landlord who turns a blind eye to a tenant performing illegal sexual acts for financial reward.

    “An example of a similar type of contributory responsibility is a landlord embroiled in pimping,” the document states. “It is not enough that the landlord attempts to persuade the tenant to put an end to their actions if they do not then stop.”

    Speaking to Swedish Radio after the District Court verdict, lawyer Jonas Forzelius, representing Portlane, was confident that the company would come out on top.

    “What the court has said in this interim decision is that taking the side of the film companies in this matter would result in far-reaching consequences for any internet operator,” he said. “And that has been Portlane’s take on the case all along.”

    Christine Demsteader (news@thelocal.se)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    icon
    Blatant Coward (profile), Jan 6th, 2010 @ 2:58pm

    CC:

    "What I don't get is, what is the actual billboard for? Is it some cig ad of some sort?"

    Check out an old movie called 'Earth Girls Are Easy' Same billboard.

    Angelyne basically wanted to be famous for being famous. Like Paris Hilton without Daddy's bucks to back her up. If this lawsuit does anything but drop off the radar, it will be a great illustration for someone wanting the Streisand effect specifically for the boost of publicity.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    icon
    Matt (profile), Jan 6th, 2010 @ 3:07pm

    Eh? Who is she to complain?

    Say I could understand and support someone suing because a billboard appeared in a movie. Why her?! She sold her the use of her likeness on the billboard to the advertiser. That means she doesn't have it anymore! It is gone. That's what "sold" means.

    My guess - defendants call an all-out blitz motion to dismiss instead of answer. A huge, ominous, carefully argued, 50-page monster motion to dismiss, with 378 cites and an average of 2 footnotes to a page. They attach stills from the movie showing the (incidental, partially obscured) usage, and the argument that the Court is allowed to take judicial notice of the images alone occupies 7 additional pages.

    Simultaneous with that filing, they send a discovery hold letter to the model, her agency, her manager, her clients, and anyone else associated with her demanding that they preserve and collect any and all information, including any and every email they have sent in the last 10 years about the model, referencing her name, voice, or likeness, or with a photo attached or comments about a photo.

    In short, they make it clear that fighting this fight is going to be expensive and painful for all involved, not just the defendants. Responding to that motion is going to be costly for the plaintiff (or her contingency fee lawyers). Bigger deal - it may be successful, at least in part, and limit the available recovery to a negligible amount. While the motion practice is pending, they make a "nuisance value" offer of compromise - say $5k, set to expire the day after the opposition to the motion is due.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    icon
    PopeHilarius (profile), Jan 6th, 2010 @ 3:11pm

    This could also just be some good ol fashioned racism. Maybe she's not mad her billboard is in a movie, but that it's in a movie that black people(!) will see.

    On the flip side, for example, if in a film a sign promoting Techdirt with Mike's photo on it is easily seen in the background of a scene depicting graphic child rape and murder, you would likely have an excellent case that such use of your trademarked name (assuming for the moment it is trademarked) and your image has caused you damage in the community by associating it with an image of an heinous crime.

    I know you didn't intend it this way, but you are comparing one's image being in the background of a movie about a black artist... to being in the background of graphic child rape. Yeah... those totally sound just as bad to me...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    icon
    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Jan 6th, 2010 @ 3:14pm

    Re: Other considerations

    "One example is that studios often solicit money for use of brands in films. If the films aren't scrutinized for inadvertent use of unauthorized brands, beyond potential trademark and copyright issues, it would diminish the market for selling brand appearances in films. "

    You might as well say that since I don't tell people to buy Sony, Apple can sue me for telling people they should get an iPhone.

    Also, Angelyne is an attention-seeking skank.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 6th, 2010 @ 3:26pm

    Re: Other considerations

    Yeah, I mean, when there's that lone Pepsi can rolling down the background of a street out of focus, why would any other soda company ever want to pay for actual prominent usage during the movie?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    icon
    tracker1 (profile), Jan 6th, 2010 @ 3:32pm

    The Anti-Mike

    Where's TAM on this issue..?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    icon
    PrometheeFeu (profile), Jan 6th, 2010 @ 4:32pm

    Don't people pay to have their brands appear in movies? I'm quite certain that there are some pretty lucrative contracts being made to place a brand/product in a movie. I wonder if maybe we can find a company out there that paid filmmaker A to put their brand in movie A and then sued filmmaker B because they used their brand in movie B without prior authorization.
    One part of me really wishes this would happen just because of how funny it would be to point it out to them. Another part of me would cry if that turned out to have occurred before.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 6th, 2010 @ 5:48pm

    On the skimpy fact the lawsuits seems a bit of a stretch, but it would be nice to actually view a clip and see what has her so worked up.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    identicon
    Lucretious, Jan 6th, 2010 @ 6:34pm

    Its not the model, its the parasite attorneys who have set the system up to monetize issues like this and convince clients that they HAVE to litigate or they will somehow be making a grave error.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 6th, 2010 @ 8:32pm

    "You know what else might create loss of reputation or standing in the community? Filing ridiculous copyright lawsuits against moviemakers who happened to catch your billboard which was on display out in public."

    Hit the nail on the head, to bad didn't hit her in the head, the dumb biatch!!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    icon
    mike allen (profile), Jan 7th, 2010 @ 12:46am

    one point

    the model does not have a leg to stand on.
    She does not own the copyright the ad company does she gavepermistion for her image to be used on the billboard, the copy right of the ad belongs to oyther people so unless they complain also TOUGH.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    identicon
    cc, Jan 7th, 2010 @ 2:28am

    Re: CC:

    Thanks, BC. I agree with your assessment -- this woman wants attention.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
    icon
    PaulT (profile), Jan 7th, 2010 @ 6:26am

    Re: The Anti-Mike

    He's either polishing up some half-baked retort based on total fiction, or even he recognises how pointless this lawsuit is. Filing a suit that even TAM recognises is total bull? That's gotta be bad!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
    icon
    Richard (profile), Jan 7th, 2010 @ 7:21am

    The Copyright Info

    The UK copyright information service quotes "including a poster in the background" as an example of fair use/fair dealing....

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
    icon
    LostSailor (profile), Jan 7th, 2010 @ 8:16am

    Re: Re: Other considerations

    Derek, I never said that suing in these instances is the smart thing to do, but merely that it can be valid cause of action. People embark on stupid lawsuits all the time; it's an American pastime. The law is already on the books and has been, in some shape or another, for thousands of years. It's a much better solution than facing each other with pistols at dawn, which used to happen very regularly over much smaller slights.

    Invocation of the so-called "Steisand Effect" is overblown. If you make a flat-out statement that I'm a baby-rapist or make a film to that effect, I couldn't care less about your reputation, I'm going to sue the pants off you. Or call you out for pistols at dawn!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
    identicon
    nraddin, Jan 7th, 2010 @ 9:03am

    I might sue too

    If someone used my face in that POS movie. Just having your name or face associated with such a bunch of violent idiots could cause all kinds of harm. In this case however it looks like she asked to be on the billboard so she is a public figure. But I don't blame her for being mad.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 7th, 2010 @ 7:27pm

    Re: Other considerations

    "While this may be a stupid suit, it doesn't mean the process of clearing brands, copyrights, and trademarks doesn't have other valid justifications."

    Intellectual property has little justification on its own merit, not merely as a result of this suit alone.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
    icon
    slander (profile), Jan 8th, 2010 @ 10:16pm

    Re:

    No, it's her. She is the attention whore that Paris Hilton wishes she was...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This