If you’re a celebrity in the entertainment industry then you know that the paparazzi come with the territory. Unfortunately this means getting your picture taken nearly every time you leave your house. But as a recent case involving actress Katherine Heigl shows, if a company uses those images without your permission and that company profits from you, then you may have grounds for civil litigation.
Some of our Los Angeles readers may have already heard about the $6 million lawsuit the actress lodged against the pharmacy Duane Reade. According to the 15-page lawsuit, a paparazzi photographer took a picture of her near a Duane Reade store in New York. The photograph was then posted by Duane Reade on the company’s Facebook and Twitter accounts without her knowledge with captions that seemed to suggest that the actress endorsed the company.
But the actress says that she did not give permission to the pharmacy to use the photograph for advertising. In fact, she hadn’t given them permission to use to the photograph at all. It’s because of this that the lawsuit is requesting that Duane Reade compensate Heigl for the misuse of her name and likeness. Reports indicate that she intends on donating the funds received from the lawsuit to a charity.
Although this case in taking place in another state, similar laws here in California would also likely protect Heigl’s right to privacy and would require the pharmacy to pay damages to the actress for using the picture without her permission. But because of the complexity of the law and because every case is different, it’s worth noting that a similar occurrence here in Los Angeles may not have the same outcome as will be in Heigl’s case.
Source: Reuters, “Actress Katherine Heigl sues Duane Reade for unauthorized photo use,” Casey Sullivan, April 9, 2014