Former Bikini Model Loses Tort Claim Over Use of Photo in Movie

Manhattan Supreme Court Judge O. Peter Sherwood has put an end to an interesting tort lawsuit over the use of a picture in the movie “Couples Retreat.” Former bikini model Irina Krupnik was disgusted when the movie showed actor Jon Favreau’s character masturbating to her picture and claimed that such use went beyond what was agreed to in a contract. She demanded $10 million but, according to Judge Sherwood, she will receive nothing.

Krupnik posed for a catalogue dressed in a scanty swimsuit in February 2001and sued the film’s distributor, NBC Universal, in March, claiming it “published [her] likeness in a vulgar context.” Her lawyer Tom Mullaney insisted that she never imagined her bikini photo would be used in this way. “Ms. Krupnik did not sign up for that.”

Sherwood found that Krupnik signed away their rights to the photo at the shoot and could have no say on its later use. That seems a sound decision to me.

Claims involving the appropriation of name or likeness have often been controversial. Past tort cases have generally favored celebrities and resulted in rulings like White v. Samsung, a perfectly ludicrous ruling where Vanna White successfully sued over the use of a robot with a blond wig turning cards as the appropriation of her name or likeness.

Source: NY Daily News

7 thoughts on “Former Bikini Model Loses Tort Claim Over Use of Photo in Movie”

  1. Your honor, when I sold them the bed, I didn’t know they’d sell it to someone who’d have sex on it.

    She sold the rights to the image, whoever holds those rights gets to decide who they let use it. You don’t want your image used like that, don’t sell the rights.

    Same goes for music and other creative endeavors.

    Mildly related…

  2. I suppose some would pay good money for this type of service….

  3. Did the judge’s decision hinge on the fair use doctrine? Jonathan, pipe in here — aren’t there all sorts of cases where it’s been ruled that using someone’s image without their consent is in violation of some law?

    I mean, consider copyright law as it pertains to music. The fair use doctrine allows someone to use — what, four or eight measures of someone’s song without being in violation of the song’s copyright, but if more than that is used, it IS a violation?

    On the other hand, wasn’t there once a movie where someone was jacking off to the poster of Farrah Fawcett?

    It’s an interesting question, and certainly deserving of some interesting debate.

  4. Yissil,

    I have to think that “ickiness” would also apply to just generally being in this terrible film without consent much less the unwanted solo attentions of Jon Favreau.

  5. Nal,

    Thanks for the link–for evidentiary purposes only, of course.
    That young woman is not a very attractive model—by today’s standards.

  6. Personally I would have ruled for the plaintiff just on the grounds of general ickiness.

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