Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Right of Publicity Produces Win-Win-Tie Result

Woody Allen settles with American Apparel for $5M for using his likeness in an ad without permission:

Woody Allen wins $5 million in lawsuit over his image

Despite the headline's text he did not win the money, it was a settlement on the eve of trial.

Win 1: They blatantly took a still from one of his films and used it in an ad. They claimed Fair Use, in that they added a caption in Hebrew, and that obviously, it was "never meant to sell clothes." However, their logo was quite visible on the billboard they made. A court would have made short work of this argument, I think. Commercial misappropriation is a lot harder to defend than noncommercial, and putting your logo on something, especially when you are known for offbeat ads, kind of gives the lie to the idea that it wasn't commercial usage. Right of Publicity comes out on top.

Win 2: I despise American Apparel, at least I do whenever they are brought to my attention. Their ads are the worst FOTM Terry Richardson/Ryan Mcwhatshisface dreck and their products, at least what I've seen in said ads, are ugly and faux-retro in a lazy mass-market way. What discomfits them refreshes me. Also, they tried to intimidate Allen by putting his ex-wife and his current wife, the victim and subject of a rather scandalous affair, on the proposed witness list. That was pure sleaze, as neither of them could possibly have anything to do with the case.

Tie: I have never liked Woody Allen's movies or much cared for the tiny bit I know about him through unpurposed media input. OTOH, he doesn't seem inclined to put up with people doing him wrong, which I have to admire. So I guess it's okay that he won, although ideally somebody would have hit him with a pie on his way out of the courthouse or something.

More after the jump - click here!