Having A Model Release Might Still Get You A Lawsuit

One of the first things you learn as a photographer is to get a proper model release when considering to sell your work commercially. However, simply having a model release still might not prevent you from litigation. A law firm recently published an ad looking to represent firefighters who were affected by the federal James Zadroga Act. The advertising agency used by the law firm photoshopped a stock image of Robert Keiley who was modeling as a firefighter. They then created a scene where it appeared as if he had been at Ground Zero on 9/11. The argument is how much can a stock image be altered before it becomes false advertising (the ad did clearly state that the image was a depiction of a 9/11 firefighter)? In this Fox News story, two attorneys give two different sides of the argument. I think the law might fall in favor of the law firm who hired the ad agency; what do you guys think?

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Gary's picture

Pink tie is right. The model was paid to pose in a uniform that was not his. He signed the release to get his pay check. Did he stipulate any potential use or restrictions or have his attorney look it over? We know better. Quoting the New York Post ""He really signed his rights away," said Kim Tracey, an account director at the agency. "[The release] allows for use in ads, promotional usage, really anything you want." He was paid $350.

The ad is in poor taste but the guy is embarrassed, not injured. But I love lawyers arguing about lawyers suing lawyer. Sheez, no honor among thieves?

Gary's picture

Actually, the ad agency apologized and pulled the ad. The lawyers get tons of free publicity.

Daniel Enloe's picture

I think the Lawyer on the Left was on Fox News' payroll. He was, after all, in the building...Tag teaming sux for the douche

Both Lawyers were on the Fox payroll, do you think they would sit there and bark at eachother for 7+ min without billing Fox ???

Phil Hoyt's picture

I shutter stock images and replace items in peoples hand all the time at work. Since when was that illegal.

This feels just like a way for the ex-model to get some money.
It´s a shame, now every model and actor who pose for anything will sign and then sue?
It is illogical.

I hope the company wins. They paid and sign for that picture.

I dont think the issue is the photograph. He signed a waiver for that.

The issue is that the text suggests that he endorsed the use of his face as a representation of the heros of the fire department at 9/11. which isn't true

Its an identity theft. The ad firm stole the identity of the heros and placed it on the model without his consent

I see no case here. The model is angry because his old job came back to bit him in his ass.

He signed a waiver for stock photography which (from the releases I've seen) allows the photo to be edited and shown in anyway as long as that way isn't pornographic or demeaning. If he's so upset about being misrepresented then he should of never posed as firefighter.

There is no defamation of character anywhere in this ad.

Legally he can't sue and win. Sadly, it doesn't matter what they do with the photo as long as he's waived any right to the image and what's done with it. I agree that they should have done everything to correct the situation once they heard that they had damaged his reputation but i still believe that he doesn't have the right to protest. He did sign a binding agreement that he has no right to that photo and what's done with it. Period. Regardless of the present controversy, can we just agree that Kelly is a poser and emotionally unstable?

I think the model liked "playing" a firefighter so much, he became one. And the ironic thing is he faked it til he made it. Now he can't fake the fact that he wasn't a firefighter when 911 happened. I think he lost all his firefighter cool points for playing fireman before actually becoming one. I can't wait to hear the news that he has a firefighter calendar coming out! LMAO......

If they had kept the helmet and kept the print as it is, everyone of his co workers would still ask if he was there or think that he took credit for it.. The frame does not make any difference in my opinion. To bad he ended up as a fireman, if he had been a pilot now, he would't have a problem..