Law on the Runway

Por: Natalie M. Ortiz Troche

Model files lawsuit for alleged unauthorized use of her image

Runway model and New Zealander, Kata Greaney, filed a $1.1 million lawsuit regarding an alleged unauthorized use of her image against Elizabeth Arden, Bed, Bath, and Beyond, MSA, a modeling agency in New York which had represented her when the images were taken, as well as others. Greaney’s complaint, which was filed in the Southern District of New York for claims of unfair competition, violations of New York Civil Rights Law, unjust enrichment, breach of fiduciary duty, and breach of contract, states that the defendants used her image on the packaging of Elizabeth Arden bathrobes without her permission and without compensating her for having used them. The images were shot in 2011 and the contract Greaney signed regarding the images specified that the images would only be used for a pamphlet or brochure of a spa in New York. She was paid $320 for the photo shoot where the images were taken and Elizabeth Arden or Bed, Bath, and Beyond’s eventual involvement was never mentioned at the time.

As well as not being informed of the use of her image, Greaney added in her complaint that she was never compensated for the unauthorized usage by the companies. She further explains that, for the type of national campaign that the companies used her image for, a model would typically get paid $20,000 to $50,000 minimum per year. Greaney also alleges that the agency, MSA, was aware that the defendants were interested in using her image and likeness at the time of the photo shoot and they never informed her if the matter, therefore failing to inform her of the “highest possible compensation” she could have received for the usage of her image and likeness.  

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