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An FSU coed wandered around topless
September 30, 2001 11:33 AM   Subscribe

An FSU coed wandered around topless at Mardi Gras, and was videotaped without her knowledge. She was included in a commercial tape called "Girls Gone Wild" and is now suing. Do you think she has a case?
posted by Steven Den Beste (69 comments total)

 
Link via Overlawyered.
posted by Steven Den Beste at 11:36 AM on September 30, 2001


No.
posted by Wet Wednesday at 11:40 AM on September 30, 2001


I think it would be a pretty bad precedent to disallow public videotaping because of a false expectation of privacy. Say I videotape some crime and the suspect demands the video is his property and cannot be used in ways he doesn't approve fifirst, like a court case. Surveillance cameras would suffer from the same fate.

I hope she loses, if you want to make an ass out of yourself on a public street you simply have no right to privacy. The fact that this is a commercial videotape should have no bearing. People sell public video all the time. Do you think all those WTC camcorder shots were given away?

Want to give the impression that you aren't the kind to take your top off in public? Then don't take your clothes off.

She's not just in the video, she's in the commercial.
posted by skallas at 11:47 AM on September 30, 2001


whenever there's a special on the news here regarding weight loss, or eating of any kind, they always videotape fat people walking around downtown or eating. it's always a sure thing. why can't they also sue?

i feel bad for the girl, who obviously didn't want to be videotaped topless, but what kind of privacy can you expect out in the streets of mardi gras? she should have thought things through a little harder.
posted by moz at 11:48 AM on September 30, 2001


If she did not want to be seen publicly she should not have been out in public. Duh!! It is not like they went to her home and set up a camera.
posted by bjgeiger at 11:51 AM on September 30, 2001


I would have to examine the evidence more closely.

(Sorry, someone had to say it....)

Also, she's probably suing because she wants more attention, she can probably get an acting or modeling career out of this. ;)
posted by mattpfeff at 11:53 AM on September 30, 2001


I think I've learned a valuable lesson from this, It is perfectly logical to sue other people when I do stupid things and make a fool out of myself.

[drops pants]
posted by fuq at 11:57 AM on September 30, 2001


Infringing her privacy? Absolutely not -- she was in public. But because they profited off of her image without her permission, they've left themselves open to a lawsuit.

She's entitled to withhold her image from commercial exploit -- or to be monetarily compensated.
posted by jennak at 11:58 AM on September 30, 2001


She's entitled to withhold her image from commercial exploit -- or to be monetarily compensated.

Why? When CNN goes on location somewhere and sets up a camera no one that passes by gets a dime, yet CNN's advertisers pay 1,000 times what the girls gone wild people would ever make.

Want to clarify on what law protects her but lets TV do this kind of stuff everyday?
posted by skallas at 12:03 PM on September 30, 2001


This poor girl is on tv and (supposedly) on a billboard. What if you were walking down the street, eating a hot dog and someone taped you and used you in a marketing campaign for oscar mayer weiners? would you sue for money? Say your zipper was down and you felt embarrassed?
posted by panopticon at 12:10 PM on September 30, 2001


jennak: She's entitled to withhold her image from commercial exploit -- or to be monetarily compensated.

skallas: Why? When CNN goes on location somewhere and sets up a camera no one that passes by gets a dime, yet CNN's advertisers pay 1,000 times what the girls gone wild people would ever make. Want to clarify on what law protects her but lets TV do this kind of stuff everyday?

The privacy angle will be difficult to win, but I agree with jennak that using her image in advertising without permission or compensation is legally wrong somehow. That's the difference with the CNN random footage example.
posted by billder at 12:10 PM on September 30, 2001


If a girl wanted to make some cash, send in pretend voyeurist photos to a voyeur site, and then sue them when they post them. I don't know what the legal position is, but there must be a law against publishing certain types of voyeurist pictures.
posted by Wet Wednesday at 12:19 PM on September 30, 2001


The part about the 'hidden' camera is what kills me. Whenever a girl takes her top off on Bourbon Street during Mardi Gras hundreds of flash bulbs go off immediately and cameras are everywhere. You would have to be blind and deaf to not be aware of this. (and of course, that's ignoring the 'cam' that watches the action 24-7)

The problem is most girls are too drunk by that time to care. Regret comes later.
posted by justgary at 12:34 PM on September 30, 2001


Today I think I'm going to stash a camera in a women's restroom and sell that as "wild girls gone to the bathroom." I mean, women are going to the restroom and getting naked, they know this right?

All kidding aside, the company that does those tapes doesn't get release forms from everyone? They certainly seem open to a suit.
posted by mathowie at 12:40 PM on September 30, 2001


Anyone who has ever walked down Bourbon Street at night (year round, not just during Mardi Gras) has seen girls flashing for beads. They've also seen the countless still- and video- cameras pointed at any girl who might be drunk enough to trade immodesty for $0.50 worth of shiny plastic on a string. You can't miss them -- the girls or the cameras. If you're flashing in New Orleans, you're doing so with the knowledge that your image is being captured. Period.

As for whether or not a commercial entity should be entitled to profit from her image royalty-free and without her consent, I think she probably has a good case. Major television networks won't broadcast your image unless you sign a waiver giving them permission to do so. They do this for a reason. I have to wonder why the production company for these videos didn't follow the same procedure.

Last time I was in New Orleans, I walked past John Walsh (a really nice guy, by the way) and a production crew taping a segment for America's Most Wanted. At both ends of the city block were signs warning pedestrians that AMW was being taped, and consent for broadcast was implied if they happened to be captured on camera while walking through. The camera operators for these videos aren't quite as sophisticated, but it wouldn't hurt to post similar notice just the same.
posted by Smuj at 12:40 PM on September 30, 2001


"Why? When CNN goes on location somewhere and sets up a camera no one that passes by
gets a dime, yet CNN's advertisers pay 1,000 times what the girls gone wild people would ever
make.


First of all, your example is a news program, which falls under different rules. They are not focusing on those people who are passing by -- that's not what CNN's advertisers are paying for. Its a lot different with girls gone wild.

The problem is not the taping, which could happen in a news story or in the background of something else. Its the use of the image for commercial purposes. That's were she has a case.

Will never know if the court will agree for sure, because these guys will settle.
posted by brucec at 12:44 PM on September 30, 2001


Does this mean the guy "Caught on Video" peeing into the coffee urn might get a performance fee?
posted by MAYORBOB at 1:22 PM on September 30, 2001


Well, it certainly does give new meaning to the expression Don't get yer tits in a wringer...
posted by y2karl at 1:43 PM on September 30, 2001


First of all, your example is a news program, which falls under different rules. They are not focusing on those people who are passing by -- that's not what CNN's advertisers are paying for. Its a lot different with girls gone wild.


What different rules? Those that are disagreeing with my statement have yet to produce a law or concrete example that bans public spectacles from being used in promotion. I'm not saying there isn't one, but if you're certain about this please provide some proof.

Secondly, its irrelevant what CNN's advertisers are actually paying for. If so-and-so is in the shot in public they deserve whatever you might suggest this woman deserves. In fact a lot more considering CNN makes more off their business than the GGW people. This is the same argument as news showing fat people walking around downtown to promote a piece on weight loss.

If the tape is legal to sell than an excerpt from it would also be legal to use as promotion.

Third, the suit is described as an invasion of privacy suit in the article so most of this is academic. The GGW tapes have been available for years. I think this girl is simply going for broke and getting bad legal advice.
posted by skallas at 1:48 PM on September 30, 2001


While she probably has no case when it comes to the expectation of privacy on a public street, and since the video could possibly be called a documentary, she is not likely to be owed damages on her appearance in the video. However, her "publicity rights" are probably being violated if her image is used in a commercial.

The Right of Publicity prevents the unauthorized commercial use of an individual's name, likeness, or other recognizable aspects of one's persona. It gives an individual the exclusive right to license the use of their identity for commercial promotion.
posted by eptitude at 1:52 PM on September 30, 2001


I think Skallas is right. The Enquirer publishes pictures of celebrities taken in public, without consent, all the time. And they use these images in advertising. How is this different (except for the nudity part)?
posted by Doug at 2:01 PM on September 30, 2001


eptitude, this isn't likeness this is real public footage. I can't sell Elvis dolls without permission but I can sure sell a photo of him walking down the street. The difference is pretty simple: Elvis's people own the likeness, copyright, etc of the deceased Mr. Presley. They can do whatever they want except control what in done is a public place.

Now when I take the photo, or videotape drunken girls, the copyright is mine as photographer or videographer. As a copyright holder I can advertise it as I see fit. I can also stop people from pirating my works i.e. she can't use the video I took of her without my permission.
posted by skallas at 2:07 PM on September 30, 2001


The attitude that "she did something stupid" really bothers me. She made a decision to revel in the Mardi Gras Spirit. Within that setting, I bet her flashing was much appreciated and fairly commonplace.

I would like to encourage that type of freedom in people. I don't think its stupid. I like it when people feel comfortable enough in their setting that they can take off their clothes. Or sing, or whatever.

I don't know the intricacies of the law, but I think its so damn icky to take things out of context, make it dirty, and sell it.

I'd like to think that there are places besides my house where I can be protected from exploitation. If not...next naked party is at my place.

Wait, I just remembered that I live in a webcam house that requires every visitor to sign a consent form...hmmm....naked party is on hold for now while I think about this.
posted by halcyon at 2:27 PM on September 30, 2001


I want to rhyme 'FSU coeds' with 'Catholic Girls' thus:

FSU Coeds
With their chilly little nipples
FSU Coeds
after three Hurricanes!
FSU Coeds
They're hirin' their lawyers
Filin' motions and actions
Stop showing that tape!

er...or whatever
posted by crunchburger at 2:37 PM on September 30, 2001


If you are a stock photographer and you take a piture of someone but do not get a release it can only be use for editorial purpose, say to illustrate a story in a magazine. But if you get a release you can use it for commercial advertising purposes. It's interesting because the obvious answer might be wrong.
posted by chrismc at 3:09 PM on September 30, 2001


one other thought, neither side is very symapthetic, could they please both be wrong somehow?
posted by chrismc at 3:11 PM on September 30, 2001


I don't think she has a case legally, and I think it's a dumb move to sue because it only draws more attention to her. She apparently thought it was OK to flash her breasts to potentially thousands of people she didn't know while at Mardi Gras (I notice she isn't suing herself), but she's upset that Girls Gone Wild is displaying her breasts to other thousands of people she doesn't know. More people are going to pay attention because of the lawsuit and news stories than ever would have noticed otherwise. Yeah, it's embarassing, but she could have avoided it by keeping her top on.
posted by kirkaracha at 3:19 PM on September 30, 2001


Nah, Halcyon, I think your house is covered. Er, so to speak.
posted by RakDaddy at 3:25 PM on September 30, 2001


The legal position here actually seems rather complex. Legal arguments about photographing people generally revolve around the use to which an image is put. Different states' laws also vary in statute and interpretation. PDN has a good summary.

The matter is not whether its ok to take a picture, but how it is subsequently used.

If this woman's case is based on an expectation of privacy, she may be on shaky legal ground. If, however, its based on lack of consent or payment for commercial exploitation, she's probably onto a winner.

Professional photographers are normally advised very early in their careers to ensure that they obtain a signed model release for any image of a person which may be used for commercial purposes, so to avoid exactly this sort of situation.

I am not a lawyer, but I did try to make a living as a photographer, once upon a time
posted by normy at 3:34 PM on September 30, 2001


If she didn't want to be filmed or photographed she should'nt been doing what she was, being topless. I have seen these "Girls Gone Wild" Videos and she knew she was being video taped, they talk to all of them and give them beads to flash. If she felt violated and is trying to sue, that just shows good ol American law. "Hey everybody(1000's at Mardi Gras) look at my breasts, but oh my god someone taped me" Boo Hoo she doesn't need a lawyer she needs to keep her tits in her shirt.
posted by Madmethod at 3:39 PM on September 30, 2001


The attitude that "she did something stupid" really bothers me. She made a decision to revel in the Mardi Gras Spirit

I agree, halcyon. But you must remember, this is uptight, puritanical America, where a natural state of undress is offensive, sick, and too, too titillating to bear....

but she's upset that Girls Gone Wild is displaying her breasts to other thousands of people she doesn't know

I don't know why this particular woman is upset, but it is conceivable, as others have stated, that she is upset not at being "on display" but rather that other people are making money off of her image without consent or compensation, which seems perfectly reasonable.
posted by rushmc at 4:24 PM on September 30, 2001


So let's say I make an amatuer porn with my boyfriend. What are my legal expectations to that video? I can't stop him from showing the video to a few of his friends, but I think I have a solid legal case to stop him from selling that video without my consent.
posted by witchycal at 4:36 PM on September 30, 2001


I can't believe people here are blaming her for her actions. Don't you see a difference in making a public spectacle of yourself and that public spectacle being sold by someone to millions of people without your consent?

It reminds me of bootlegging live concerts. There are lots of bands that are cool with audience taping. They know it is getting done and fans of their music love it. You can bring recording equipment, make tapes, and trade tapes with others. It's all allowed.

What they hate, and never allow is any tapes to be sold. You record, make duplicates, then decide to sell it to people that like the band. Not good. The band is not compensated for their image, their work, or their art, and instead it's just some guy with a DAT tape making all the money.

I see a same parallel here, though some would argue a band's performance is copyrighted material and isn't the same as a person, but I wouldn't say a copyrighted song deserves more rights than an individual.
posted by mathowie at 5:00 PM on September 30, 2001


heck.. with the DMCA and cronies, copywrited songs have way more "rights" than anything!
posted by BlitzK at 5:02 PM on September 30, 2001


copyrighted, too.. probably. Long day!
posted by BlitzK at 5:03 PM on September 30, 2001


Another analogy if that one doesn't work for you.

I don't care if people print out metafilter. I don't care if people share copies of printouts.

But if you hit print on your browser, printing this entire thread, then went through every other thread, printing them all. If you bound the printouts, and sold it as "MetaFilter: The Book," selling thousands of copies, making untold numbers of dollars, it would be something different entirely.

Is that fair to anyone that has posted a thread here? Is it fair to me as the maintainer of the site and service?

We're all commenting in public here. Every browser has a print button. If you believe this girl is not entitled to anything due to the place and her antics, why would I complain if someone sold printouts? Does my or any other poster's consent mean anything before you decide to sell it?
posted by mathowie at 5:05 PM on September 30, 2001


rushmc, the entire article addresses privacy concerns and describes the case as an "invasion-of-privacy suit." To me, this implies she's upset at being on display. If her concern is not being compensated, then she should sue for that.
posted by kirkaracha at 5:10 PM on September 30, 2001


A quick google search turned up this primer, which just reinforces the whole grey area thing.

GirlsGoneWild Inc. (or whomever) should have known better. You always obtain a release if you're going to use a photograph for commercial purposes.


And not that this has anything to do with the rightness/wrongness of her claim, but she's only suing for $15,000 to $16,000. That's between 530 and 800 Girls Gone Wild Spring Break videes/DVDs. She's not going to bankrupt the company.

posted by alan at 5:22 PM on September 30, 2001


Matt:

All posts are © their original authors.

I could only sell my own.

I think we're getting way off base here, this is an invasion of privacy suit (mentioned more than a few times in this thread). Is there privacy in public? No. Can the GGW people sell videos of public behavior? They have, and so far have been unchallenged and it looks pretty legal. I'm sure they're going to use the argument of no expectation of privacy and possibly the GGW tapes being "documentaries" thus allowing fair use of whatever copyright protection the girl may have.

The only problem I'm seeing is the puritanical reaction to these videos. Topless girls? Oh my! No one would be making much of a stink if someone collected and sold videos of parades or panhandlers.

Someone commented on the spirit of Mardi Gras, well part of it lives on in these videos. Fess up to your actions, you can't just harp on about wonderful nudity then insist for your right to deny that it ever happened.

As far as exploitation goes, I can't see much of a difference between this and the media. Monica Lewinsky would be a billionaire if our society cared the least bit about exploitation. Like I said its easier for the puritans to blame something as tasteless as GGW than something as 'credible' as CNN.
posted by skallas at 5:38 PM on September 30, 2001


If you bound the printouts, and sold it as "MetaFilter: The Book,"
Ah jeez- 'scuse me, I gotta go make a call to my publisher right away. :)

Hm- tough call. I mean, whether she's topless or not, she's in public and the camera's in plain view. I think at first we need to separate the fact of her toplessness from any dicussion. Wait- I think the very first thing we need to do is introduce some video and pictoral evidence. :) The second thing is then forget the fact that she happens to be topless in determine legal standing. Now, if someone made a video called "Streets of Seattle" and just went out with their Steadicam and took lots of video of people walking around various Seattle attractions- perhaps intending to sell the video in those gift shops around tourist attractions or something- would they be legally protected to make the video without getting release forms or compensating those who were in their shot? I suspect it would, although the primer that alan linked leaves it unresolved; on the one hand, photos taken publicly don't necessarily need release forms, but then there's this vague "right of publicity" if an individual can be identified and is the focus of the photo/video in question. So: does that mean GGW, Inc., could sidestep everything by simply blurring the faces so they are no longer identifiable individuals? How long in seconds does a camera have to have a particular subject in frame before that subject is the "focus of the shot"? Tough area to ponder...

And what does that mean for shows like "Wild On E!" where we see partygoers and revelers in vacation hot spots, where clearly they couldn't have gotten all those release forms, right? The principle difference seems to be that E! doesn't show nudity (or at least blurs it out) and generally focuses on scenes of general revelry, not individual partgoers. Isn't GGW, Inc. simply calling these documentaries about broader concepts like "Mardi Gras" partying, and thus not be focusing on this B.G. plaintiff in particular, denying both her privacy and publicity claims (well, again it sounds like she's not making any publicity claims)? Ultimately, it really sounds like it's almost going to be a coinflip about which judge gets the case and what the applicable state laws happen to be. Me, I lean towards the "you got naked, don't be ashamed of it, it was part of the fun of Mardi Gras/ Spring Break/ Carnival/ Etc.

As for mathowie's second analogy (the first seems a red herring, since artists performing live music already have copyrighted most of their music, and generally only allow bootlegging as a look-the-other-way grace), there seem to be two key differences: one is that if someone made a collection of some the best comments from Metafilter- such as a Gospel According to Peanuts 'cept with Metafilter- or referenced many comments in other publications, that might be different than just bundling up "Metafilter: The Book". Also, and more importantly, the page footer clearly states "All posts are © their original authors", whereas people don't generally walk around in public places wearing sandwich boards that say "All images of me are © me". Although I guess the question is whether the law imply that sandwich board copyright anyway. Methinks it generally does not.
posted by hincandenza at 5:46 PM on September 30, 2001



If this woman is successful, will it mean that artists will not be able to take and sell photographs of people on public streets without consent? That seems like an awful situation, and a lot to give up so that one woman can hide her boobies from sight.
Metafilter is a public forum. If someone were to take my post and put it into some kind of work, I would have no problem with that. As maintainer of the site, Matt may have a problem with using the name Metafilter to promote a book, but I expect that whatever I post here is basically public domain. Just as I expect to be in Ugly Guys: Please Put Some Clothes On when I walk around New York naked.
posted by Doug at 5:49 PM on September 30, 2001


Dammit, skallas, why'd you have to go and post everything I was already saying while I'm still in the midst of touching up my post?!. Jeez.... !!

Guess that'll teach me the folly of proofreading and editing what I've typed before finally hitting "post". ;)
posted by hincandenza at 5:50 PM on September 30, 2001



Okay, I see after reading the article that it is indeed an "invasion-of-privacy suit," but from what I read in the article, it seems to be more of a libel suit than anything else.

She may/may not have objected to actually being videotaped topless in a public area, but as I see it, she objects to the public display, advertising, and sale of her image for which she did not consent. There is a case here, but for the wrong reasons.

This reminds me of that SNL sketch where a daughter returns back home from college only to be present while Mom and Dad to see her "gone wild" in a TV commercial.
posted by Down10 at 5:53 PM on September 30, 2001


hincandenza, I see the new improvements in my telepathy gun are showing already!
posted by skallas at 5:59 PM on September 30, 2001


Libel requires malicious falsehood. They are claiming that she went topless, and they have photographs to prove it. The truth is never libelous.
posted by Steven Den Beste at 6:08 PM on September 30, 2001


I have no idea if she has a case as far as the company making money off of her image goes.

I am amazed, however, that people are comparing the situation to 'bathroom cams' and 'bedroom porn'.

Not even in the same ballpark folks. (is it not that obvious to people who have never been to new orleans?)
posted by dantheman at 6:18 PM on September 30, 2001


Professional photographers are normally advised very early in their careers to ensure that they obtain a signed model release for any image of a person which may be used for commercial purposes, so to avoid exactly this sort of situation.

I'm no legal expert, but this is certainly what was drilled into us during my public access tv training.

If her concern is not being compensated, then she should sue for that.

I agree.
posted by rushmc at 6:24 PM on September 30, 2001


The best part of this story: A news publication such as The Smoking Gun can write an article about this lawsuit and legally publish a topless picture of the woman from the video.
posted by rcade at 6:32 PM on September 30, 2001


The suit for "invasion-of-privacy" is what I find totally out of line. To be compensated I have no argument with, but I just do not see an invasion of her privacy if she was on a public street.
posted by bjgeiger at 7:10 PM on September 30, 2001


halcyon: I don't know the intricacies of the law, but I think its so damn icky to take things out of context, make it dirty, and sell it.

Brace yourself for a shock, but there are plenty of icky things that are also perfectly legal.

For example, I think she has a better case for compensation, but the company could conceivably claim that their tapes are documentaries.

I'm not a lawyer, but I saw a show about one on TV.
posted by kirkaracha at 7:19 PM on September 30, 2001


I'm no legal eagle but I think this is a no brainer! No, she doesn't have a case! Okay, maybe she does with the billboard ad but not with the film. I was at Mardi Gras this year and to be honest I might have flashed a little from my hotel balcony on Bourbon Street. I can't even use the drunk excuse, I don't drink--but why pay for beads to throw and wear if guys will throw them up to your balcony for free-- . I have thirty minutes on video myself of women flashing and there was a large TV type camera (with crew) on the street with lights and all. There is no way you could say that you didn't know your image was being recorded. I remember asking my girlfriend when I saw that large camera "hey, you think that's that Wild on Mardi Gras thing?"
posted by bas67 at 7:38 PM on September 30, 2001


WHERE'S THE VIDEO?
posted by ParisParamus at 7:59 PM on September 30, 2001


I can't believe people here are blaming her for her actions. Don't you see a difference in making a public spectacle of yourself and that public spectacle being sold by someone to millions of people without your consent?(matthowie)

I suspect that the issue here is both financial and moral: should someone make money from someone else they didn't pay?

Whether it's CNN or this. If you make money showing other people, them, at the very least, you should require their consent.

The girl in question was paid for a particular performance, in front of a specified number of paying customers(if they were ten times more she would have been paid double or more).

Here, in ethical terms, the contract ends.


Anything else is exploitation. And gross exploitation at that.

Just suppose she wanted to keep it secret, from her family, friends, husband?

Exactly.

Other people's lives do not belong to us: much less to the ####### media.

What does the world gain, in any conceivable sense, from the public exposure of this woman's job.

(BTW, very disappointed with most of you Americans, who seem way more machistas than us Latins!)
posted by MiguelCardoso at 8:01 PM on September 30, 2001


They are claiming that she went topless, and they have photographs to prove it.

I don't think that's all they're claiming. After all, they're calling her a "girl gone wild." I think there's a definite negative implication in that title alone.

If this woman is successful, will it mean that artists will not be able to take and sell photographs of people on public streets without consent?

It's one thing to take pictures of people on the street. It's another to label those people with a potentially libelous moniker. I'm a bit overweight. I don't necessarily have a problem with someone selling a video of me on the streets of Mardi Gras. However, I would have a problem with the same video being sold under the title "Big Fat Guys at Mardi Gras". It's not an invasion of privacy, as I should have no expectation of privacy at Mardi Gras. It would be, however, libelous.
posted by jpoulos at 8:06 PM on September 30, 2001


There is an inherent tension between the copyright owner's rights in the video tape and the individual subject's privacy and publicity rights. Even if, arguably, she doesn't have a privacy right in the sense that she bared all on a public street, she still has publicity rights in the use of her image, especially for commercial purposes. The posters who mentioned the whole good-professional-photographers-get-model-releases thing are absolutely correct. That's why on (relatively) "responsible" reality shows, you see faces or other identifying characteristics that haven't been cleared blurred out (such as license plates, etc.). She most definitely does have a case against the Girls Gone Wild producers.
posted by IPLawyer at 8:25 PM on September 30, 2001


mathowie said:
I can't believe people here are blaming her for her actions.

Uh, is that a typo, or did you really mean to say that?
posted by Potsy at 8:26 PM on September 30, 2001


Steve Gey, who was one of my professors, says it best in the article:

Steve Gey, a constitutional law professor at Florida State University, explained that case law has not recognized privacy claims in public places, such as on the street. But courts have recognized a right not to have one's image commercially exploited.

"I don't think the law is all that clear or coherent," Gey said.


jpulous says: I don't think that's all they're claiming. After all, they're calling her a "girl gone wild." I think there's a definite negative implication in that title alone.

Yes, there may be, but so what? Even if it's seen in its most negative light, "gone wild" is simply an opinion - one likely to be well-founded by the contents of the video. An opinion, by definition, cannot be defamatory. If a judge determined "gone wild" to be a factual assertion, a jury would have to decide whether the plaintiff was indeed a "girl gone wild."

Wanna bet what a jury would do on that claim?

Matt sez: I don't care if people print out metafilter. I don't care if people share copies of printouts.

But if you hit print on your browser, printing this entire thread, then went through every other thread, printing them all. If you bound the printouts, and sold it as "MetaFilter: The Book," selling thousands of copies, making untold numbers of dollars, it would be something different entirely.


Right. The first would be fair use. The second would not. The work is still copyrighted, as noted at the bottom of this here page. (incidentally, Matt, you may want to revise the TOS to allow YOU to use submissions here for certain limited purposes... just a thought.)
posted by mikewas at 8:28 PM on September 30, 2001


I think the girl should stop feigning shame and 'fess up...I don't think she cares she was taped topless but is pissed that she isn't making any money off of it. Why is she hiding behind this morality play? It's a little late for that, if nudity is a morality issue for her. Ain't no shame in wanting to profit off your own body, especially if other people are. And why is she suing for so little? Man, I would try to get as much as I could, especially if I knew that the makers of GGW probably make millions of dollars off these videos.
posted by CraftyHotMelt at 9:03 PM on September 30, 2001


Get this junk off mf
posted by aaronshaf at 9:14 PM on September 30, 2001


If she was smart she'd realize they just did a dickload of marketing for her and she'd open up her own online site with just her and rake in some quick $$$.
posted by ao4047 at 9:47 PM on September 30, 2001


First of all: girls take their tops off at Mardi Gras. For those people at that place and time, it isn't stupid, it is just what you do. The girl hasn't done anything wrong here.

Second: She is getting bad legal advice. She has an excellent case and if it went to court she would win. The bad advice is in only asking for $15,000... that's peanuts, and the defendant will settle as fast as they can.

Third: The issue is partly about how the material is being used, and partly about her non-celebrity status. There are different rules regarding fair use of images of public personalities vs. average individuals. That is why a tabloid can make money selling topless pix of J.Lo but not topless pix of me. The second issue is that they used her image in advertising without her permission, and that is potentially an even bigger no-no.

And for the record... yes, the fat people walking around in the background of weight loss ads are there on purpose and are paid to do it. Every time, no exceptions.

This girl should have asked for $15 million... she probably would have got it.
posted by spilon at 10:28 PM on September 30, 2001


I have seen these "Girls Gone Wild" Videos and she knew she was being video taped, they talk to all of them and give them beads to flash.

Now this opens up an entirely different avenue of thinking. If she was intoxicated, as seems to be the Mardi Gras reveler norm, and the producers talked her into flashing for beads, then she may have an argument that even if she gave consent or implied consent by going ahead and disrobing for the camera, that consent is null and void because she was incapacitated.

The comments here have been based upon the idea that the producers are merely capturing people's public behaviour, but if they are interfering or encouraging a specific behaviour for the express purpose of compiling their tapes, then this woman's claim gains a bit of merit.
posted by Dreama at 12:31 AM on October 1, 2001


Ironically, I think she has a case where all the other girls on the tape don't. While the others really fall under the law regarding filming in a public place, by taking this one girl and putting her on the cover, promotional materials and placing her prominently in the TV commercials, they've crossed the line into using her image to promote a commercial enterprise.

And I agree her lawyers are idiots. If I were the GGW producers, I'd write her a $15k check today. They probably rake that much in during a single week.
posted by darren at 5:02 AM on October 1, 2001


They probably rake that much in during a single week.

A friend of mine was a writer for a company that produced similar videos, which were also aired in edited form on Fox. They couldn't give the videos away.
posted by rcade at 5:43 AM on October 1, 2001


If a judge determined "gone wild" to be a factual assertion, a jury would have to decide whether the plaintiff was indeed a "girl gone wild."

Wanna bet what a jury would do on that claim?


I think it would depend entirely upon the location and composition of the jury. And just how blind Justice is to breasts.
posted by rushmc at 6:27 AM on October 1, 2001


I like it when people feel comfortable enough in their setting that they can take off their clothes. Or sing, or whatever.


You damn hippie.

:)
posted by glenwood at 7:01 AM on October 1, 2001


I think it would depend entirely upon the location and composition of the jury.

Yes, but no. A jury likely to think that the woman had been damaged in some way would likely be offended by her conduct. A jury that is not offended by her conduct would likely shrug its shoulders. Pretty much a catch-22.

Defense counsel, during jury selection, needs to figure out whether it's a liberal or conservative jury. Once underway, and spin the case that way - either "What's the big deal?" or "This case is about the wages of SIIIINNNNNNNN!!!! "

Heh.
posted by mikewas at 7:33 AM on October 1, 2001


she may have an argument that even if she gave consent or implied consent by going ahead and disrobing for the camera, that consent is null and void because she was incapacitated.

Dreama, doesn't this seem to open up lots of leeway for things like date-rape cases and the like?

on the one hand of course I am sympathetic to any woman who is used for the titillation and the profit of strangers. but on the other, where does the voided consent line get drawn? one drink and the guys with the leering cameras are off the hook, but if she comes up with vacation snapshots showing her lapping up tequila shooters, she gets the 15K?
posted by Sapphireblue at 10:07 AM on October 1, 2001


Other people's lives do not belong to us: much less to the ####### media.

What an un-American (anti-American?) sentiment!! :::grin:::
posted by rushmc at 7:42 PM on October 1, 2001


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