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Miami, FL Law Blog for Entertainment Law, Business Law, and Public Interest

Friday, June 15, 2012

Bogart's son to Burberry: Stop misusing my father's image

By Pankaj Ladhar of Manos • Alwine P.L.

Models, whether they are working in Miami or elsewhere, need to be very savvy when they sign contracts. If they're not careful, they can end up signing away much more than they bargained for.

This is because most clients aren't buying an individual, physical photograph; they're buying an image and the rights to use that image, usually the right to use it to sell things. The decision as to how much permission to grant can be very pivotal and requires some understand of entertainment law and intellectual property to pull off properly.

Recently, the estate of Humphrey Bogart, the American actor made iconic by his farewell scene with Ingrid Bergman in "Casablanca," sued British luxury clothier Burberry, alleging that the company was illegally using an image of Bogart to sell its signature raincoats.

Burberry has countered that the image is not being used directly to sell its products and that it paid the appropriate license fee to stock-photo giant Corbis for the right to use the image.

(Interestingly enough, Bogart's son Stephen has said the image Burberry is using from "Casablanca" depicts Bogart in a raincoat by Aquascutum, not Burberry).

This story illustrates how it can be hard to control the commercial use of your likeness. When you're a model, it can sometimes feel like you're David and your client is Goliath; do you really have any power at all? The answer to that question is yes, especially if you have an attorney who understands entertainment law sticking up for you.

Source: Drapers, "Burberry sued for using Humphrey Bogart image," Victoria Gallagher, June 12, 2012


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