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.

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Comments on “Jake Gyllenhaal Threatening Websites For 'Defamation By Photoshop'?”

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ChurchHatesTucker (profile) says:


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.”

hothmonster says:

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 -_-

Ima Fish (profile) says:

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.

Annie says:

Re: 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.

Annie says:

Re: 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.

Anonymous Coward says:

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.

Huph (user link) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 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.

G Thompson (profile) says:

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.

Annie says:

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.

Annie says:

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.

law_duh says:

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.

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