Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Defamation, or Just Masturbation?
Here's the link to a news article describing an interesting lawsuit brought by former model Irina Krupnik in Manhattan Supreme Court against NBC Universal and Universal Pictures Co. Ms. Krupnik is disgruntled, and understandably so, because a bikini-clad photo of her was used as a masturbation aid by a "purposely unattractive male" character (played by Jon Favreau) in the movie Couples Retreat. Although Ms. Krupnik had signed a release allowing use of her photos by stock photo agencies, her lawyer contends that "[i]n no way at all did she even remotely expect the [photos] to turn up in some raunchy movie scene." According to some news reports, Ms. Krupnik also sued for defamation and invasion of privacy. She contends that being associated with the movie scene marred her "wholesome image."
This case reminds me a bit of Braun v. Flynt, a 1984 case in which an entertainer who had an act with a swimming pig sued a pornographic magazine called Chic when it used her photo in a sexually suggestive manner. Braun lost on her libel claim but won on a false light theory; however, Ms. Krupnik can't use this theory because New York courts don't recognize the false light tort. See Howell v. New York Post Co., 21 Media L. Rep. 1273 (N.Y. 1993). Moreover, Chic's use of Braun's photo created an implication that Braun consented to or was complicit in its use. Arguably, the use of Krupnik's photo as the "inspiration" for the character in Couples Retreat does not create the same negative implication about Ms. Krupnik's complicity.
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The late, great George Carlin had a great line on masturbation: It's not illegal; but if it were, people would take the law into their own hands.
Posted by: Shag from Brookline | Mar 18, 2010 5:43:18 AM
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