Unlawful Use of Images

Unlawful Use of Images

When one does not have a copyright for an image, one can stop a website’s use of their image for three reasons: invasion of privacy, violation of right of publicity, or defamation. Invasion of privacy occurs when a party is falsely portrayed in an offensive manner, and also when a party is intruded on and a photo is taken in a situation where that party has a reasonable expectation of privacy.

Right of publicity is another claim that can be made in order to stop a website’s use of a party’s image. Right of publicity violations occur when the image is used for commercial purposed, like to sell and/or endorse products.

Also defamation claims can be made to stop a website from unlawfully displaying someone’s image. Defamation occurs when a false impression that is damaging to one’s reputation is created. The photo must falsely defame the person and must cause most people in the community to think less of you.

In some cases, Amazon is accused of unlawfully using images to display products on an item’s product listing case. In Roe v. Amazon.com, plaintiffs’ engagement photo was used on the cover of an erotic book without their permission.1 Plaintiffs sued the publisher of the book as well as Amazon. The court held that Amazon could not be held liable because they did not publish the book.2


  1. Roe v. Amazon.com, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 33297, 118 U.S.P.Q.2D (BNA) 1070, 44 Media L. Rep. 1469, 2016 WL 1028265 (S.D. Ohio Mar. 15, 2016).

 

  • Bowens v. Aftermath Entm’t, 254 F. Supp. 2d 629 (E.D. Mich. 2003).

The court held that the Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss was denied, as plaintiff had made a sufficient claim. Additionally, they granted Plaintiffs Motion to Leave to Amend the First Amended Complaint, as doing so would not be in bad faith and the Defendants had failed to show how it would be futile. Finally, the court denied the Motion for Sanctions, as the Plaintiffs’ claims were well founded and therefore there was no need for the court to sanction plaintiff.

  • Bowens v. Aftermath Entm’t, 364 F. Supp. 2d 641 (E.D. Mich. 2005).

Plaintiffs’ filed a case based on newly discovered evidence and the Defendants’ filed a Motion for Summary Judgment on the basis of res judicata and issue preclusion. The court held that the state court determination precludes the Plaintiffs from re-litigating the issue before the court. Additionally, the court denied each parties motion for sanctions.

  • Bowens v. Aftermath Entm’t, 711 N.W.2d 751 (Mich. 2006).

The court denies the application for leave to appeal the judgment because the court was not persuaded that the questions presented should be reviewed by the court.

  • Bowens v. Ary, 2009 Mich. App. LEXIS 2000 (Mich. Ct. App. Sept. 24, 2009).

The court here reversed an order of summary judgment that dismissed all claims against defendants. The court held that in order to establish a claim for eavesdropping the court must remand in order to determine whether plaintiff intended and reasonably expected that the conversation at issue was private.

  • Bowens v. ARY, Inc., 489 Mich. 851, 794 N.W.2d 842, 2011 Mich. LEXIS 456 (Mich. 2011).

Here, the court reversed the ruling of the appellate court and reinstated summary judgment in favor of the defendants; the evidence showed that “no reasonable juror could conclude that plaintiffs had a reasonably expectation of privacy in the recorded conversation.” Id.

  • Roe v. Amazon.com, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 33297, 118 U.S.P.Q.2D (BNA) 1070, 44 Media L. Rep. 1469, 2016 WL 1028265 (S.D. Ohio Mar. 15, 2016).

In 2014, Defendant Jane Doe wrote a book entitled A Gronking to Remember and had it published by the Defendants Amazon.com, Inc., Barnes & Noble, Inc., Apple, Inc. and Smashwords. The Corporate Defendants offered the book for sale on their websites in both digital formats (Nook, Kindle, iBooks) as well as in paperback. The cover of the book contains a photograph of Plaintiffs taken during their engagement prior to their wedding. The Court concluded that the Corporate Defendants including Amazon.com Inc. were not publishers, and thus the corporate defendants’ motion for summary judgment was granted.

  • Yasin v Q-Boro Holdings, LLC, 27 Misc. 3d 1214(A) (N.Y. Sup. Ct. 2010).

The Plaintiff, Tasleema Yasin, alleged unlawful use of her photo without her consent on the cover of a book published by Q-Boro Holdings, LLC and Urban Books, LLC entitled Baby Doll. Yasin’s motion for a permanent injunction was granted and the defendants were prohibited from further selling, displaying, or using her image.

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