Jake Gyllenhaal Threatening Websites For 'Defamation By Photoshop'?

from the that-won't-end-well... dept

And here we go again. Apparently a few websites had posted some photos that allegedly showed actor Jake Gyllenhaal stretching in his underwear. Supposedly, the image is faked. However, that hasn't stopped Gyllenhaal's lawyers from trying a somewhat novel approach to it, demanding websites take it down, because the image (among other things) could be seen as defamation:
How is that possibly "defamation"? As Eriq Gardner notes in his writeup (the one linked above), if the image really is Photoshopped, then he isn't stretching, so that's perhaps something "false." But it really does seem like his lawyers are very much stretching. It's hard to see how this causes any "harm" to Gyllenhaal. In fact, it would seem that having lawyers send out silly takedown notices like this does more harm to his reputation than the photo in question.

Thankfully, it appears that some sites aren't backing down, with at least one noting that the takedown itself now makes the photo newsworthy: "We're keeping the photo up, since it hasn't been proven fake and because their letter bumped it from 'funny and cute' to 'actually newsworthy.'" That site, Queerty, also explains why this isn't defamation:
Oh, really? Defaming him? Well, we don't like defaming anyone. You might even say that we are gays and lesbians allied against defamation.

But what exactly is the defamation here? Is is that people might think, wrongly, that Jake wears underpants? Or that his reputation is sullied by the idea that he allowed someone to photograph him without pants on? Or that he stayed in what looks like a cheap motel?

Simply calling something defamation doesn't make it so, as Howard Stern learned in 2009 when he tried -- and failed -- to sue someone for suggesting that he's gay. Is that what's going on here?

Jake's a public figure, and we can talk about him if we want to. We can even speculate about what he looks like in his underwear. We can't -- and won’t -- claim that this picture of him is definitely authentic, since we just don't know.
I wonder if these claims of "defamation by photoshop" will start to become more common. Perhaps it would be good to get some court rulings on the books that show this is a ridiculous claim.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    icon
    Marcus Carab (profile), May 25th, 2011 @ 12:02pm

    Ha! Better hope he doesn't see this image then:

    http://i-beta.crackedcdn.com/phpimages/photoshop/3/1/7/52317.jpg?v=1

     

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  2.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), May 25th, 2011 @ 12:39pm

    Re:

    Wow....

     

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  3.  
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    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), May 25th, 2011 @ 1:13pm

    Hrm?

    In fact, it would seem that having lawyers send out silly takedown notices like this does more harm to his reputation than the photo in question.

    I had no idea who Jake Gylleraeouparudladj was until this, so "no publicity is bad publicity?" perhaps?

    Or maybe "making Streisand work for you?"

    Or maybe, "Courts are now a publicity tool."

     

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  4.  
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    Ima Fish (profile), May 25th, 2011 @ 1:19pm

    "In fact, it would seem that having lawyers send out silly takedown notices like this does more harm to his reputation than the photo in question."

    Agreed. Before I read this "story" I had no opinion of Jake Gyllenhaal. (Mostly because I had never heard of him before.) Now that I have read this "story" I'm convinced he's a whiny douche-bag. In my subjective and utterly uninformed opinion, of course.

     

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  5.  
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    Brian Schroth (profile), May 25th, 2011 @ 1:24pm

    Aren't the lawyers shooting themselves in the foot? If "anyone can tell from a cursory examination" that the picture is fake, wouldn't that mean that it's not defamation (by the defamation equivalent of the "moron in a hurry" test)?

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 25th, 2011 @ 1:33pm

    Actually this looks like a complaint that has a slim hope of sticking. I'm actually impressed that they didn't jump straight to a DMCA takedown notice despite the fact that they obviously don't have a copyright claim. They still probably should have just ignored it and let it blow away after it's 5 seconds of fame.

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 25th, 2011 @ 1:43pm

    I think Jake's lawyer might have hurt his claim by stating the photo was an "obvious" fake.

    If it's so obviously fake, no one will believe it says anything about Jake.

     

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  8.  
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    Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased) (profile), May 25th, 2011 @ 1:46pm

    Back done broke!

    If he is worried about being portrayed as homosexual he probably shouldn't have played a gay cowboy in Brokeback Mountain.

     

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  9.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), May 25th, 2011 @ 1:54pm

    Re: Back done broke!

    Does that mean he actually IS a prince of Persia then too? If so, can we get him to Iran about that pesky nuke program that we're aloud to have but they aren't because...well...we said so?

     

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  10.  
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    Joe, May 25th, 2011 @ 2:04pm

    If this is defamation by photoshop then how does Perez Hilton alive right now?

     

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  11.  
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    Joe Publius (profile), May 25th, 2011 @ 2:08pm

    Does this mean I can sue Techdirt? I'm pretty sure my avatar is just a 'shopped silhouette of Masnick's avatar, causing me no end of psychic pain.

     

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  12.  
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    The eejit (profile), May 25th, 2011 @ 2:12pm

    Re: Re: Back done broke!

    Nah, Gyllenhaal's much more the Princess of Persia. :p

     

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  13.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 25th, 2011 @ 2:13pm

    Re:

    The lawyers should have probably said, "to the untrained eye, it looks authentic. But our hired experts have proven that it's fake because ..."

    They're lawyers, they should know better. Dumb lawyers.

     

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  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 25th, 2011 @ 2:14pm

    Re:

    Psychic pain? Is the future really that bad?

     

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

  15.  
    identicon
    HothMonster, May 25th, 2011 @ 2:19pm

    Bloom Hergott Diemer Rosenthal LaViolette Feldman Schenkman and Goodman, LLP

    do you have to be represented by a lawfirm with as many names in the title as you have zeroes on your bank balance?

    If so I think Doug will continue to represent me just fine.

     

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  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 25th, 2011 @ 2:20pm

    I think any website receiving that letter should Photoshop pictures of his lawyers in underwear and post those.

     

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  17.  
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    HothMonster, May 25th, 2011 @ 2:20pm

    Re: Re:

    im scared to look if thats how helmet feels

     

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  18.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 25th, 2011 @ 2:22pm

    Adobe should sue his lawyers for using their software name in a take down about defamation.

     

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  19.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 25th, 2011 @ 2:22pm

    Re:

    "I'm convinced he's a whiny douche-bag. In my subjective and utterly uninformed opinion, of course."

    Hi I represent Bloom Hergott Diemer Rosenthal LaViolette Feldman Schenkman and Goodman, LLP we have found your comment to be defamation and.....

     

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  20.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 25th, 2011 @ 2:25pm

    Re: Re:

    He doesn't even need to go that far. He just needs to avoid strenuously articulating a position that undermines some of his claims.

     

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  21.  
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    Old Fool (profile), May 25th, 2011 @ 2:28pm

    If someone showed a picture of me with a fake body, I would feel defamed.

    My body is 100% real!

     

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  22.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 25th, 2011 @ 2:30pm

    Re: Hrm?

    You're living under a fucking rock then.

     

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

  23.  
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    Drew (profile), May 25th, 2011 @ 2:36pm

    Re: Re: Back done broke!

    But....we "found" how to make nukes first so finder's keepers.

     

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  24.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 25th, 2011 @ 2:50pm

    Re: Re: Hrm?

    I'd hardly call not knowing who a second-rate actor is living under a rock.

     

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

  25.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), May 25th, 2011 @ 2:50pm

    Re: Re: Re: Back done broke!

    Found = got from Nazis?

     

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

  26.  
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    Atkray (profile), May 25th, 2011 @ 3:41pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    I clicked through before I saw Lord Helmet's response....

    Marcus is 100% correct, if he and his legal team were upset before that one will cause an aneurysm, or five.

     

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

  27.  
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    Huph, May 25th, 2011 @ 3:43pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Back done broke!

    [citation needed]

    I'm pretty sure if Germany had successfully discovered a method for making nuclear bombs, this would be a much different world. Hitler was far more obsessed with the V II rocket program. I don't think the Germans were bothering with the bomb much towards the end of the war. That's what I've read at least.

     

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

  28.  
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    hothmonster, May 25th, 2011 @ 3:47pm

    Re: Re: Re: Hrm?

    Donnie Darko was an awesome movie and while broke back mountain wasn't very good (the book was good) he preformance was pretty stellar. Otherwise he hasn't done much to speak of, well I hear jarhead was good but I never saw it.

    But frankly I am disappointed in all of you for not watching donnie darko -_-

     

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  29.  
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    hothmonster, May 25th, 2011 @ 3:52pm

    Response to: Marcus Carab on May 25th, 2011 @ 12:02pm

    Apperently they are way ahead of you. I just tried to check the image now that I am on the train and get an image not found error.

     

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  30.  
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    Donnicton, May 25th, 2011 @ 4:00pm

    Re: Response to: Marcus Carab on May 25th, 2011 @ 12:02pm

    I just tried it, it still works. And it's pretty damn funny, I suggest trying it again when you get home, or wherever you're going.

     

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

  31.  
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    Capitalist Lion Tamer (profile), May 25th, 2011 @ 5:14pm

    Re: Re:

    It'll hurt worse once he gets there.

     

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

  32.  
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    Marcus Carab (profile), May 25th, 2011 @ 5:38pm

    Re: Response to: Marcus Carab on May 25th, 2011 @ 12:02pm

    If the direct link doesn't work, you can see it on Cracked. It's the winner of this photoshop contest (which has some other pretty good shop-jobs):
    http://www.cracked.com/photoplasty_188_awful-romantic-comedies-theyll-probably-make-nex t_p2/

     

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

  33.  
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    Jesse (profile), May 25th, 2011 @ 6:33pm

    $0 damages

    A fantastic point. Even if they could somehow demonstrate that the picture was defamatory, the damages would be zero because they've already recognized that no one could possibly mistake this picture of genuine.

     

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

  34.  
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    Jesse (profile), May 25th, 2011 @ 6:33pm

    Re: $0 damages

    *as genuine.

     

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  35.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 25th, 2011 @ 7:42pm

    Re:

    I did that for my dad years ago. Someone in his social circle was passing around pics of herself in a bikini, so he asked me to 'shop his head onto a bodybuilder for a laugh.

    Guess Jake can't take a joke.

     

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

  36.  
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    taoareyou (profile), May 26th, 2011 @ 12:12am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Hrm?

    Prince of Persia was good.

     

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

  37.  
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    G Thompson (profile), May 26th, 2011 @ 2:02am

    Celeb Fakes are ubiquitous on the net

    Ever since celebs and computers with graphic editing programs have existed people have been creating images of their favourite celebrities in fantastical parodies that can go from G rated all the way up to XXX-OMFGWTF rated pictures.

    If Jake has a problem with The underwear image, he better not do an uncensored search on Google Images for ["Jake Gyllenhaal" fakes] NOTE: THIS SEARCH IS NSFW !!!

    For a run down on some legal situations with Fake images, with Potential Claims and also the Defences available [the summary is best read at end] this page by Walters Law Group on Celeb Fake Legality is great

    Alternatively a nice listing of legal cases throughout the years can be found via the Fake Detective (A fake exposing site) and lists cases brought by the likes of Dustin Hoffman, Barbie, Jennifer Aniston, Alyssa Milano, Sophia Loren, Milton Berle, Tiger Woods, Madonna, Anna Kournikova, Cameron Diaz, etc.

     

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  38.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 26th, 2011 @ 3:23am

    Howard K Stern

    It was Howard K Stern not Howard Stern who failed to get being called gay as defamation. It is customary to include the K when referring to the lawyer.

     

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

  39.  
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    Joe Publius (profile), May 26th, 2011 @ 6:16am

    Re: Re: Re:

    MY GOD, IT'S FULL OF STARS!

     

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

  40.  
    identicon
    Annie, May 26th, 2011 @ 7:26am

    Talking out your ass

    I love how Queerty posted the pic as "Jake Gyllenhaal in his Underwear" and didn't include a disclaimer anywhere in the article when it was first posted claiming that the pic may not be real -- but now they are all like, "Oh, we're not claiming it's authentic. We can't be sure."

    Also, they posted it because it makes him look gay -- but then they get all offended by the possibility that Jake Gyllenhaal took legal action because the pic made him look gay.

    Just another case of sleazy tabloid losers trying to play the victim when they were in the wrong.

     

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  41.  
    identicon
    Annie, May 26th, 2011 @ 7:41am

    Re:

    By claiming the pic is obviously fake, the lawyers did not shoot themselves in the foot.

    It's the fact that the pic is obviously fake and Queerty (amongst others) are portraying it as REAL. That's why it is defamation.

    If the websites were smart enough to post the pic with the caption, "Funny, but more than likely fake, pic of Jake Gyllenhaal" or simply mentioned somewhere in the article that the pic could be fake then defamation wouldn't be an issue.

     

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  42.  
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    btrussell (profile), May 26th, 2011 @ 7:50am

    Re: Howard K Stern

    It is customary to include many k when being referred to any liaryer.

     

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

  43.  
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    Any Mouse (profile), May 26th, 2011 @ 7:52am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Hrm?

    Donny Darko? Seriously? Third rate pile of crap.

     

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

  44.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 26th, 2011 @ 9:07am

    Re: Re:

    The lawyers are claiming that *anyone* can tell from a *cursory* examination that it's fake. They don't need to have a disclaimer any more than the Onion needs to have a disclaimer on their obviously fake news stories.

     

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

  45.  
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    Peekaboo, May 26th, 2011 @ 5:20pm

    Jake Gyllenhaal underwear

    ... turns up a ton of pics under "Images" in Google Search. A lot of them look like professional publicity photos for Brokeback, so... how is this one photo "defaming" him? Looks like the guy likes posing in his unmentionables...

     

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

  46.  
    identicon
    Annie, May 27th, 2011 @ 7:33am

    Re: Re: Re:

    The Onion is in itself a fake news website. That's all they do so I can see why you would think they don't need a disclaimer (they legally do need one though, and they do have many on their website...but back to my point). Queerty is not a fake news site. Again, the issue is that these websites were presenting the photo as REAL in order to get tons of traffic to their sites. They are in the wrong.

     

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

  47.  
    identicon
    Annie, May 27th, 2011 @ 7:40am

    Re: Jake Gyllenhaal underwear

    Because one: Those pics are real.
    Two: Those pics were done with the approval of Jake Gyllenhaal and his publicist.

    The claim JG is making does not revolve around him not wanting people to see him in his underwear. It revolves around the fact that these websites are circulating a pic of him that is fake and claiming that it is real. Sometimes these websites need to be reminded that they can't do whatever they feel like doing just to get more hits.

     

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

  48.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 27th, 2011 @ 8:56am

    If he's going to sue for something then it should be for invasion of privacy.

     

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

  49.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 27th, 2011 @ 8:57am

    Re:

    (assuming the images aren't fake of course).

     

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

  50.  
    identicon
    chalel, Jan 3rd, 2012 @ 3:49am

    what people really need is SCRUPLES! would you want that going around the net about you? if so where are your scruples..ya have none? Im sorry you care very little of yourself!

     

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

  51.  
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    law_duh, Mar 5th, 2012 @ 9:54am

    False light....

    I'm not sure all of the anklebiters here understand what the false light tort is, and how its damages are calculated. Also, damages are not the only remedy available...what they really want here is the publication discontinued, and there is injunctive relief available to accomplish that.

    What's potentially eye-rolling here is that Gyllenhaal is a public figure and this is probably defensible as satire of a public figure. Digital caricature, if you will. If a cartoonist drew it, there wouldn't be much of a case. So, that's how I'd view it.

    Everyday people SHOULD want this kind of publication to be actionable when a non-public figure is targeted. For instance, when your neighbor who hates you decides to shop your face onto porn stills and circulate them in the neighborhood, or some such....

    False light is an ancient tort for a good reason. People have been behaving badly in this way for a long time.

     

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

  52.  
    identicon
    Conn, Mar 13th, 2012 @ 4:05am

    Well i can guarentee that you will find some VERY sexy pictures, videos, and men that will rival the charm of Jake on http://www.guyspy.com

     

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


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