Woman Sues For Commercial Use of Her "Hot" Police Mugshot

Woman Sues For Commercial Use of Her "Hot" Police Mugshot

Perhaps police stations should consider issuing model release forms along with standard booking procedure, as it appears a mother of four who was arrested for a DUI back in 2010 is now suing a background check website for illegally using her mugshot. The woman claims countless websites have branded her a "hot convict" and have destroyed her peace of mind.

The 28 year old mother, Meagan Simmons, claims a background check website has been using her incredibly attractive mugshot to profit commercially through advertising on their website. Mrs. Simmons was not contacted in any way to ask for her permission to use the images, nor was she compensated in any way for the public use of her image. She is seeking monetary compensation as well as an injunction to prevent any further use of the image as it has caused her great mental anguish as well as being an invasion of her privacy.

We here at Fstoppers have discussed licensing and commercial infringement on many occasions where the victim seems to be the photographer. However, this is a two way street and photographers are not the only ones who can leave the situation feeling robbed. I think the lesson to be learned here is to always credit and compensate your people. If not, have an agreement they can sign to release you of any headaches down the line. Otherwise, something like this could happen to you.

I'd love to hear whether you think she deserves compensation or if, as a convict, the woman should lose any rights she has to the photos and her privacy.


[Via Tampa Tribune]

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Wally's picture

Am I on petapixel again? This news is several days old if you're going the gossip column route.

Lor Wor's picture

Let this be a lesson to all the hotties out there. Go home with a photog that has a descent set of lights or risk being caught with on camera flash.

Michael Turcotte's picture

The internet hatred for the woman not withstanding, commercial use without permission is an easily won case. Maybe the website owners should get a release next time.

Sean Dustman's picture

I've spent the last 3 months of my life seeing this girls mug on my timeline and I'm sure thousands of people clicked on her face just to see who she was and I'm sure there's a record of how many clicks she caused. She should get something back just to prove these guys aren't total asshats.

james johnson's picture

Like it or not, the photo is a public record and belongs in the public domain.

Jeff Willey's picture

She's not complaining that the photo is out there - she is complaining that a private entity is profiting off of her likeness. Like it or not, they need a model release to use her likeness commercially.

james johnson's picture

I misunderstood what the website did. I thought it was a Smoking Gun type site that could claim that it was news (and even as an advertisement for them it would just be an example of what they did— which would be legal usage)

You are right. For advertisements a model release is necessary.

Marcos Villaroman's picture

What does the law actually say about mug shots that are part of the public record? Does the picture actually identify the woman such that she can be seen as endorsing something on behalf of the website? When photojournalist take pictures of people, you don't see them asking for model releases before the images can be used commercially.

Chris Pickrell's picture

If they were using the photi, maybe. But the ad is clearly built in her likeness. That's a little different.

Jeff Willey's picture

The difference here is how "commercial" is defined. A journalist puts his photo in the newspaper as part of a story, which has been deemed acceptable. Selling the photo rights-managed is also acceptable (creation of art). The line is drawn at the use of that same image for an ad campaign, at which time a model release has to be secured. The nature of the photo transforms to THE focus of the commercial enterprise rather than an auxiliary aspect of it.

Doug Birling's picture

and to think, her only crime is that she stole our hearts! Rim shot!

James's picture

Buff ting!

Michael Comeau's picture

It's a clear commercial usage of her likeness and she absolutely deserves to be compensated. Hell, can't the police department also sue?

Adam T's picture

aren't mugshot considered public domain?

supreme me4's picture

I do concur with you; mugshots are public domain and are made available on State's websites.....

Mark Schueler's picture

Is she even a convict? Just because you're arrested doesn't necessarily mean you get convicted of a crime... you know, that whole due process thing. And if she IS a convict, she DOES still have human rights, so yes, I'd say she has a case.

Dorn Byg's picture

But commercial use of an image that is public domain does not entitle her to anything. The fist question to ask is, did the original site that posted it (the police?) have the right to do so? If they did then that will effect the outcome of the background checking site.

It is my understanding that mugshots are actually public domaine and released as such. BUT I am not law professor.

Hank's picture

Wow is she hot.

Chris Glenn's picture

This sue-happy country we live in really makes me sick... does a monetary compensation really relieve mental anguish??

She's a 7 at best...

Steven Ellingson's picture

Couldn't hurt! :)

T_REC's picture

she's fucking sexy. in the face at least.

Daemon's picture

Here's the thing, if I take a shot of a model, and release it into the public domain, that doesn't mean you can use it commercially unless I had a signed release from her in the first place. I can't transfer or relinquish rights that I never had in the first place.

Juan PC's picture

i would love to make the fifth. jajajajajaja