Vampire Weekend controversy: More details on the former model who's suing the rockers, plus responses from the photographer and band

Vampire-Weekend-ContraFormer model Ann Kirsten Kennis was surprised to see her face on the front cover of Vampire Weekend‘s Contra when her teenage daughter brought the album home this year. “Her daughter came home one day and said, ‘Hi, Mom, see your picture?’” attorney Alan Neigher, who is representing Kennis in her $2 million lawsuit against the band for allegedly using her image without permission, tells EW.

Kennis retired from modeling years ago and now lives in Connecticut with her husband and daughter. According to her lawyer, the photo was taken in 1983, but not as part of her professional career. “It was taken by her family,” Neigher says. “It was a Polaroid, not a modeling picture.” So how did it wind up on the cover of a No. 1 hit album? Kennis isn’t sure. “Her mother was a chronic Polaroid snapshot taker, and used to sell whole archives of photographs to these shops, five bucks a hundred or whatever,” says Neigher. “Her mother may have given away to a charity bazaar a whole ream of photographs. We just really don’t know…She has no idea how that photograph got into the photographer’s hands.”

“The photographer” is Tod Brody, who is also named as a defendant in the lawsuit. He laughed out loud when told of Kennis’ story. “Ms. Kennis’ claim that I didn’t take the photo is blatantly false,” Brody tells EW. “I took the photo in 1983. The photo was in my possession the entire time, for 26 years, until it was delivered to Vampire Weekend.” Brody declined further comment, citing his own attorneys’ advice.

[JULY 22 UPDATE: Neigher has since clarified that he was only speculating when he said that a member of Kennis' family snapped the shot. "We have no idea who took the picture," he now tells EW. Kennis maintains that she never met Brody and that her signature on the release form he gave Vampire Weekend was forged.]

Vampire Weekend has yet to comment on the case. (See update after the jump.) After hearing both stories, who do you think is in the right here? Weigh in below.

[UPDATE: In a statement, the band's label said it intends to file a response to the suit soon: "As is standard practice, Vampire Weekend and XL Recordings licensed the rights to use the photo on the cover of Contra pursuant to a license agreement that contains representations and warranties authorizing this use of the photo. Now that a lawsuit has been filed, we look forward to having the matter resolved in court."]

(Follow the Music Mix on Twitter: @EWMusicMix.)

More from EW.com’s Music Mix:
Vampire Weekend sued by ‘Contra’ cover model
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The Social Network trailer: Who’s that choir singing Radiohead’s “Creep”?
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Comments (351 total) Add your comment
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  • SuperTrooper

    She needs to just be happy that her face will forever be apart of pop culture and get over it. Is she really being hurt by that picture being used as the cover art? No, in fact, if it hadn’t been chosen by VW, she would have never seen it again, and wouldn’t have missed it for a second. Maybe they can throw her a free cd and tickets to a show.

    • dom

      Agreed! Maybe just ask for some royalties instead of suing. what a b!tch.

      • Eric

        Um, how exactly do you think she asks for those royalties? A lawyer sends a note that say “Hey, that’s a picture of my client, produce a release.” When they don’t the lawyers sends a note “Hey dude, you know we don’t mind you using the picture, but how about some cash?” Then the label gets all snippy and says bugger off, at which time you sue and settle for 10%.

        Grow up.

      • atavanhalen

        SOOO GLAD at all the hate Vampire Weekend is getting over this. They basically raped her. What an awful band.

      • Digz

        If the words from her own lawyer are true… ““Her mother was a chronic Polaroid snapshot taker, and used to sell whole archives of photographs to these shops, five bucks a hundred or whatever,” says Neigher. “Her mother may have given away to a charity bazaar a whole ream of photographs.”
        Then no release is necessary to use the photo, even if the photographer did not take it himself. The only person she should be trying to sue is her own mother for selling her photo so casually and without any contract to retain future rights.

      • miles mirkaaan

        she should sue the band for attaching her likeness to such terrible music.

      • adam

        You can NOT use a photo of another person without a model release form, no exceptions ever. That is the law. You also do not own the rights to use things in this way just because you bought them. What do you think would happen if I buy a cd and start selling the songs?

        This is how the music industry does business, by suing because a song was used in the wrong way, people should be familiar with the rules.

      • Mike

        @eric: Do you really think the sales of this CD will total anything close to $2 million? Get real. She’s an ass hole.

      • adam

        Mike you clearly have no idea how lawsuits work. When Vampire Weekend’s record label sues a grandma for $500,000,000 because some 13 year old was sharing a few hundred songs online do you REALLY think they are expecting to get $500,000,000? Its a completely bogus number and is just what lawyers do, the judge always determines how much should be paid. This lady had absolutely nothing to do with coming up with the number.

      • Mike

        @adam: Read some of these remarks. She has to sue to provide incentive for others not do to the same thing in the future. Maybe I have the her lawyer done too.

      • byronic

        a) in a law suit you always demand more than you expect to get.

        b) the album has already made well over 2 million dollars.

        learn how the music industry is structured prior to assuming an “indie” release like this is incapable of making big bucks

        c) look up right to privacy and right to publicity laws. Unless you are already famous or are involved in a news story your image cannot be commercialized without your consent.

        therefore … She will win the case and will settle for far less than 2 million.

        And that will be the appropriate outcome.

        btw it has 0 to do with vampire weekend or their music. It has to do with whoever put the layout together who didn’t check all the clearances.

        believe it or not you can be sued for using a copywritten font for commercial purposes.

      • Michael

        Just because someone sells a photo doesn’t give the purchaser of that picture the legal right to reproduce it for commercial gain. That’s an entirely separate issue.

      • Eric Driscoll

        @mike
        You know this is a US #1 album that has sold hundreds of thousands of copies just in the US, right?

      • Fluffy Fingers

        The album may have made over $2 million in sales, but that doesn’t mean the band got all that money. As someone who DOES understand labels and album financial methods, for a band such as this it is highly likely they grossed over $2 million from album sales, but there are a number of people who get a cut of that $10-$15 album, then the rest has to be split among the band members, if there is any at all (because labels have their own sneaky methods similar to Hollywood accounting, though they do actually lose a lot of money most the time).

      • Really?

        @atavanhalen
        Comparing a picture to rape? Are you Kristen Stewart?

    • why

      why she should be happy?? just because you are a fan of this group so she should accept their “missuses” of her image..it’s her right…and she should sue them and force them to pay her some compensation..

      • Hector

        I agree, how would they like it if someone used their picture to advertise for STD’s.

      • jesssayin

        Agree. She’s got something coming and it starts with $$.
        Don’t know of any models that work for free..

      • Mike

        She didn’t do any work and deserves nothing. If she was suing me and I lost I’d get her whole family shot for less than $3 million.

      • Randy

        Wow, Mike is an insane, homicidal butthole. Killing is illegal, as is using someone’s likeness without permission.

      • ojsimpon

        It’s more than just stealing the photo for the cover. The band used giant blow ups of her as their stage set! This is scandalous! The most outrageous misappropriation case I can remember. Other snotty libs, Green Day and Art for Obama also stole their images.

      • yummycupcake

        sonic youth once found an image of two fans wearing their t-shirt that they wanted to use for an album cover. they tracked the people down and asked for permission. this is what you are supposed to do. do you understand why? how would you like it if someone took a picture from your facebook page and used it for a hannah montana cd? is it only OK because VW is a cool band?

      • Teej

        what harm does it do her? none. she has no reason to sue for damages, and its not as if she was wronged.
        Also, it is not yet proven that her signature was forced, she could just be trying to hit them up for money

    • Sean

      Super Trooper, you’re a tard. The point is that no one has the right to use your likeness for their commercial gain unless you give them permission to do so, which she didn’t. No explanation needed/end of story. I know I sure as hell wouldn’t want my picture as the CD cover by such a crappy band.

      • Kris

        1. May be a crappy band to you, may not be to others. Quality of band is not the issue.

        2. If the photographer was the one that actually took it, he is the only one with rights to the picture and can use it for his own gain and the subject of the photo has no say in it.

        3. If it as the woman says, that her mom took it and then sold it, then it is the property of whomever it was sold to, and she has no say in it.

        4. People have a false sense that they can control every image made of themselves. The only time it technically should be done is if it involves a crime, where the image can potentially give the false impression that the person was involved or committed the act.

      • Jim Klaz

        Here, Here!!

      • Shawn

        The details on what rights the band does or doesn’t have will be sorted out by her lawyers and those of the band’s label but calling them a crappy band shows who is really the tard here.

      • lane

        Not at all Kris! if you sell an image, the person is an owner of the image, it doesn’t mean the person can use her likeness to sell products. Selling her photo (or posing for photos) she just sold the physical image, but it doesn’t mean she gave him rights to sell it further and afix it to a product etc. If she did, he should have a signed release dating back to that year!

      • Scott

        Unless the model has signed a release, the photo can only be used by the photographer for editorial purposes, not commercial. I’m fairly certain this falls under commercial use.

      • Hal

        Is she also suing her mother for selling her image without written consent, or is she an opportunist and a hypocrite?

      • Tam

        This picture is not taken by a professional photographer… Its taken in front of a door of some sort, almost looks like a bedroom door from a closer look at the size of the door. So then my question is to the photographer who supposedly takes pictures in front of doors, what are you doing in a child’s bedroom?

      • troiajax

        @Tam….your’s just might be the stupidest comment on the entire page..of course the number one rule of being a professional photographer is you’re never allowed to take a photo if there is a door in the background lmfao….and the “child’s bedroom” part shows your intellect level and makes you sound just plain creepy…considering the photo was taken with a poloroid and is 27 years old, the composition of it actually does lean to the professional side…most likely a lighting test shot taken at the start of a photo shoot in my opinion

      • ojsimpon

        Kris your are blatantly wrong

      • ojsimpson

        hal you are a perfect liberal! open the pod bay doors!

    • adam

      Uh its a matter of the record label using her face to make a ton of money while she makes jack. If someone uses a Vamipre Weekend song in a commercial to sell something without paying for it do you think they arent going to sue? Its the same thing, theyre using her face to sell a cd while the commercial is using their song to sell a swiffer sweeper.

      • David

        You have made the only Intelligent comment I have read so far! Thank You!

      • nya

        The record label isn’t making a ton of money off her photo, they are making money off the music in the album. People like the band, her pic is just decoration that fits with the bands imaege. Maybe you choose what cd’s you buy based on the cover art but I don’t. Hell half the time I wouldn’t even be able to tell you what was on the cover of an album and I doubt you could either.

      • ojsimpon

        Nya that’s pretty dumb……BTW these guys used giant blow-ups of this lady as their stage show, think think think :)

      • ojsimpson

        adam gets it

      • Teej

        its totally different, its just a picture!

    • Phil

      The producers/lawyers really need to do a better job at clearing images before they’re used on album covers. The model should have been contacted first and given the right to refuse or work out a deal. She surely deserves to be paid since this striking image plays a big part in the bands image and success. 2 million though? that’s just annoying, i don’t know who comes up with these numbers.

    • burkie

      @adam: you are incorrect. If a photo is used for artistic purposes, where there is a transformation in the intended meaning of the photo, then it’s “fair use”. But in this case, they are not using the photo as a transformation or artistic expression that is very much different from the actual photo. They’re just using her face to sell their album.

    • ojsimpson

      what are you smoking? lol
      high on glue?
      “misappropriation of likeness.”

    • ojsimpson

      free tickets and a cd? holy cow you are sniffing glue

    • ojsimpon

      I’m finally getting it. Of course after reading the story I listened to some tracks. The band is interesting. Over-produced, bet they can’t really do it live.
      Now to the picture…..It’s part of this snotty arty crap. The name of the band comes from a student film one of the ivy league members made….so the name has NOTHING to do with the music, just some name, they’re not a goth vampire band…..it’s a poor name for what they’re doing….now this picture, which has NO connection to anything they’re doing. It’s not even a naked kid holding a silver plane or anything, i mean it has NO connection to this weird music……clearly a case where psuedo-intellectuals get themselves into trouble by being overly complex for no reason…..typical snotty hipsters bein’ coffee house cool……now it’s gonna cost them.

      • Ed

        I honestly can’t tell whether you’re being sarcastic or not.

      • jon

        i think oj is saying this band should have a name that relates to afro-beats and elvis costello, and that they should have a picture of them or something to do with the music, the name and photo stem from an inability to define themselves musically or visually……do you think a picture of these guys on their cover, wearing sneakers and jeans, looking like mba rebels from columbia would sell records? who are they? do they know?

    • jon

      The band’s statement today hints they plan to blame the photographer. I know you VW fans are upset. Try to put yourselves in this woman’s place. It’s absurd to think that VW can cop an entire vibe off her likeness with giant blow-ups and subway platforms without paying her. Even if the photog forged the sig, which seems likely, the record company and band are still on the hook for it. There is now way around that her fine face sold piles of records, the band has no plausible defense except to settle.

      • Teej

        the music sells the records, not the face. it is nothing more than an album cover. with itunes and online music these days, the album cover isnt even noticed often

    • jon

      Checked out Neigher….He’s a veteran. Wonder why they filed in LA since both parties can be in NYC? XL is out of England but has a NYC office. Filing in LA makes XL travel…..I imagine there is a lot of recrimination going on this week between Brody and XL right now. I’m betting Brody outright stole it and forged the signature. That’s my intuition. I assure you this is no joke or gold-digging. This lady is a victim of theft and she’s taking action. This could bankrupt. XL…..They deserve it based on what we know. The band are jerks for making a whole look and feel on someone they never even met. It borders on stalking.

      • JoeX

        They’re filing in California because the laws about use of likeness are stronger here.

      • jon

        LA Weekly says she lives in Malibu Ca, can’t post links here

    • Jenna

      If a professional photographer did take the shot and she gave him the rights to the shot back in 83, the case is pretty clear cut in the defense’s favor. It sounds to me like she’s trying to cash in while she can with a successful band she knows is making $$…

      • jon

        Easy then Jenna, just show your release with authentic signature….the fact that the photog hasn’t produced one, one that some media has a xerox of for us to see is telling……the photog stole it and the the amateur record company didn’t properly check out the photog’s claim, XL still will have to pay, they may sue the photog on their own behalf at some point….he doesn’t have that dough….but XL made millions off her, they will have to give her some.

      • Teej

        fianlly, a sensible thought! she wants money, plain and simple

    • todbrodyfraudblog.com

      Ok believe me now?

    • comacho

      This is the stupidest thread I have ever read. You people are actually arguing over Vampire Weekend. You should all go outside and go for a nice, long walk. :)

  • Nick

    Even if he did take it, its weird that they didn’t bother to at least notify her that her face would be on an album cover.

    • ann

      assuming he did take it and it was part of her signed release, there would be no reason to notify her of the album cover.

      • spoons

        True, there may be no legal reason to notify Kennis that her picture would appear on the album cover. However, letting this woman know that her face would be appearing on a globally distributed album would simply be an appropriately polite gesture.

      • dragonfly77

        You’re assuming he knew who she was. Just because he took the picture doesn’t mean that he remembered her name 20 years later.

      • Chris

        A signed release? How do you get a release form for a personal Polaroid?

      • JB

        If he had a signed release, he would know her name. I highly doubt he has a signed release, which means he does not have the legal right to use/sell/allow it to be used for commercial purposes.

      • YoYoHead

        That so called photographer is an embarrassment to the art industry. His style is cheap, sleezy and disrespectful to the model. A professional photographer would have contacted the model, get her consent on paper and even offer a courtesy check.

      • Brian

        YoYoHead: wrong. She has no right to sue. Photographers can do whatever they want with photos they take (with the exception of pronographic pictures). And the only claim she would have would be if Vampire Weekend was trading on her fame, which she doesn’t really have. That is to say, no one bought the album because she was on the cover of it. If people who would otherwise not have purchased the album did so solely because she appeared on the cover, then she might have a case. My guess is that in most states, she has no claim whatsoever, or a claim for minimal damages at best. It’s not like a faked celeb endorsement here. And for a “so-called photographer” the dude takes a pretty awesome polaroid. It’s a good photo.

      • linusbean

        Brian, I’m sorry but you’re actually VERY wrong. I worked in the entertainment industry getting clearances for dvd covers, internet use, marketing materials, etc. You have to get a clearance to use anyone’s image – ESPECTIALLY when you are selling something. Look it up.
        This is a clear cut case.

      • Jyn

        I second linusbean. This is one reason that Getty is SO STRICT about all their photographer submissions for istockphoto, etc. Even if its a knee or an elbow you must have a signed release in case there was some identifiable mark.

        He probably picked up the polaroid at a goodwill and tried making a buck off it, then embarassingly lied and said he took it. I can make my polaroids look like that too, Photoshop is a beautiful thing.

      • Peter

        Brian, if the cover doesn’t sell albums, then why have a cover? Having an eye-catching cover is important in selling books, albums, and movies.

      • Mike

        @linusbean: Just curious – If what you say is true, how do paparazzi take candid pictures with telepoto lens of celebrities in their back yards and publish them in cheesy magazines?

      • Peter

        @Mike – Because those photos are taken in public. They are also not being used in a way that suggests the celebrity endorses the magazine.

      • Peter

        @Mike – To expand on that post, you can shoot them in their backyard if you’re in a public area. Totally legal. I think a post of mine was removed for having a link. Google “photographer’s rights” and look at the first link. I carry that with me when I’m taking photos in public places.

      • Allen

        The photographer is not at fault. He can sell the picture as his own art. A person’s likeness is still protected (with a few exceptions) from third parties using it for monetary gain. the supreme court ruled on this in 2009, when pictures of Obama and Palin were used by third parties (businesses other than photographers or news organizations) to sell their wares. The record label (or the band, if they are not otherwise represented) is at fault. She will win the case.

      • ojsimpon

        Nearly everyone in this thread something wrong or stupid and wrong.
        Tabloid photos are news photographs and fall under “fair use.”
        This album cover is a commercial venture.
        The photog must have a model release.

      • troiajax

        @linusbean @Jyn…most professional photographers keep their own private stock of photos that weren’t used in the final outcome of whatever shoot they were originally taken for as long as they also retain the model release for that shoot..If she was in fact a model in 1983 and signed a model release on a photo shoot with this photographer..then he can sell the photos from that shoot(including any test photos) 1000 times for 100 years and she has no legal recourse as far as monetary compensation or being notified of the use of the photo

      • jon

        dragonfly you answer your own question. if the dude can’t remember then how does he have a release? try to critically think.

    • me here

      take the money and run!

    • The John

      So, if I take a picture of people in Times Square and 20 years later decide to put that picture on a CD cover, is it my responsibility to track down the 8,211 people in it?

      Negative. People in this country are sue-happy, it’s ridiculous. It’s not like the guy who makes Real Dolls used her likeness…

      • Douglas

        Times Square is a public place. You wouldnt need a release for that. If the photographer doesnt have the negative and a signed release, she can win this case since it wasnt shot in a public place.

      • tom

        Not the same.

        The picture you take in Times Square is of people in a public space. This photograph is clearly an intimate shot, specifically of the model.

      • Dan Fielding

        That is legally a very different thing. First of all it is a public street, second of all only the first few camera facing people may have a claim. The rest are called “walla” or something like that in the legal intellectual property world. I’m not a lawyer, but i do play on e on TV.

      • JB

        Legally, it’s a shot specifically of her, rather than of a location. Even in public (where your picture can be taken, as there’s no “assumption of privacy”, you cannot use a photo of someone if they are the overwhelming subject of the photo, without written consent (usually in the form of a model release). Unless he has a release, he has run afoul of the law, regardless of the time frame, and she deserves restitution.

      • YoYoHead

        8,211 people, lol. That is no comparison to the head shot of a young woman. The portrait photo is so close-up, you can see her earrings and clothing logo.

      • Mike

        I know if I was on the jury, I’d accept the claim that the subject of the photo was the wall behind her and she was incidental. That’s what makes it art…

      • Mike

        It might not be what you think is the subject of the photo, but that’s why the title is ‘Contra’.

      • Mike

        …and the wall behind her was a public place. Which unfortunately has been torn down, so you can’t see it!

      • The photog

        Go back to the shallow end. If someone is recognizable and you use the picture to promote a commercial product then yes, you need a release from them.

      • TS

        YES!!!!

      • Allen

        Yea, totally different.

        First, public space.

        Second, the subject in your picture is a crowd, not an individual. But it would still go back to the fact that it’s a public space.

      • ojsimpon

        See your picture on a billboard for butt cream and see how you feel…..sue happy? you dope.

    • nate

      End user. If the photo was purchased, they can do what they want with it. Besides the photographer, not the photographed/model typically owns any rights to the photo anyway.

      • Mathew

        Ummm, nope, that’s not the law. Just because you purchased it doesn’t mean you own all rights to do what you want. Plus, even if someone buys a set of photos that are supposedly “royalty free,” usually there there are different rules depending on usage. In this case, if the photographer shot the photo (as he claims in the article) and has a signed release, then my guess is she’s owned some royalties, but no damages.

      • HK

        Ummm, no Mathew. I don’t know where you went to law school (if any) and highly any diligent reviewed of copyright law if you sold a photo without a contract that individual has every right to use it as long as it’s not defaming the character of the person.

        To say “it’s your guess” that this women owns royalties means your full of it. Don’t preach what you don’t know. Also, before you start your practice as “armchair attorney” do some research or go back to school.

      • adam

        The photographer can only sell a photo of a person if he has a release. Even self portraits need release forms if you plan on selling it.

      • VikingBerserker

        You can sell or give away a photo but retain the copyright – and you do not need a contract for that.

      • The photog

        You can have a copyright for a picture all you want, but that doesn’t mean you can use it for commercial purposes. Why is that so hard to understand?

      • TS

        NO!!! PHOTOGRAPHER OWNS BUT CAN’T USE WITHOUT A RELEASE.

    • Maven Koesler

      If he took the picture, he has a release, proofs, and negatives. All he has to do is produce them in court.

      • sarah

        he’ll have a release, but he wont have proofs or negatives if its a polaroid.

    • Tam

      again what kind of professional photographer takes pictures in front of doorways and leaves the doorway in the picture…puleeze

      • Emily

        It might’ve just been a beauty shot. During casting calls a lot of models get polaroids taken so their “natural beauty” is seen.

  • Julie

    The Vanity Fair article about this same story says her signature was forged on a consent form to use the photo. I expect the lawsuit is more about that than the fact that the photo was used without her consent.

  • Georgie

    I think she should be suing Tom Brody, not the band. They would not have known that her signature was either forged or she hadn’t given her consent.

    Kirsten Kennis should be flattered that she is on the cover of a number one album by an extremely popular band. $2m is a ridiculous amount of money.

    • eve

      The band has more money than Brody.

    • Kevin F

      They always sue the ones with the Bigger Pockets…

    • ojsimpson

      you people say the dumbest things, these guys performed with giant pictures of this woman as their stage set, giant blow-up…..someone messed-up bad…..and 2m is cheap for what they stole.

  • Marisa

    i still call bull. vampire weekend is not a stupid band. and if they really didnt get consent 2 million bucks for a picture is too much! thats just pure fishing. her life isnt ruined. fndkjfndjnd this whole thing just screams bs. and its even more fishy that it took seven to nine months for this woman to sue. just ugh, this whole things is horrible.

    • Gene

      Thing is, you need the amount high enough to dissuade other would-be abusers. It’s called punitive damages. Otherwise, all too many organizations would simply say “we’ll use it without permission, and if they catch us, we’ll pay – no risk and only upside.”

    • ojsimpson

      i want you on my jury!

  • bruno

    totally looks like a casting photo.

  • Minutiae

    I wouldn’t want someone using a picture of me without my permission, no matter how much it “got my face out there.” The band is probably innocent, but the photographer did something very shady. And the reason it probably took her so long is because she isn’t a fan and hadn’t seen the cover yet.

  • Dil

    It’s a fantastic photo. and anyway, this chick is smoking hot in the picture and probably doesn’t look nearly that good today. She should be flattered that they wanted to use it.

  • SM

    She has to sue the band, and the record company, and anyone else she can think of, as well as the photographer. If she doesn’t she may lose the right to sue them later. You always want to cast a wide a net when first filing. If there’s no merit to her claim against them, they’ll be dropped.

    Use of someone’s photograph without consent is a form of invasion of privacy called appropriation. It’s less about how the plaintiff has been hurt and more about how the defendant has inappropriately benefited. $2M may seem excessive, but that will include punitive damages. It’s as much about discouraging future behavior as punishing past behavior.

    • Sherry

      Thanks for the wisdom, SM. I was hoping someone with knowledge of the law would post to shut up the whiners.

    • MK

      Wow, a lucid and informative comment. It’s nice to read those once in awhile

    • Sarah

      Good info, thanks for sharing.

      • adikos

        It is plausible that before he had done any photos of her that she had signed a blanket release form. If the pictures are for casting or some other purpose she might have given consent unknowningly. I recently signed up for some culinary art programs and I had to sign a form that gave them permission for a whole host of things, including taking photos of any dish I create while in the class. Those photos can then be used for anything that university thinks is appropriate without my further knowledge or approval.

        Really it’s such a long time ago and why does it matter now? I’m sure she doesnt look the same anymore. Kinda absurd imho.

      • JB

        being absurd and being perfectly fine to do legally are not the same thing. Absurd is a subjective judgement. This whole thing will focus on whether he has a release. Without it, she does have a case, regardless of how absurd one may label it.

    • Aloisae

      What I’m wondering is why her mother (or her mother’s estate) wasn’t named given that she is alleging that an unauthorized sale of a private photo was the first step in how this ended up in public. If she is letting the initial transgressor.. who is the person that would have known she was a professional model but chose to sell her picture anyway without approval.. off the hook then I personally wouldn’t be able to take seriously her supposed injury.

      • JL

        If it happened that way, her mother is not necessarily the initial transgressor. Just because she may have sold the polaroid does not mean that the person buying it has the right to use it any way that they like. That person would still have to have a signed release to use it for commercial purposes.

    • YoYoHead

      nice comment

    • ojsimpson

      SM you’re actually explaining the facts to these lunkheads, they don’t think stealing her image is bad obviously……this band built an entire mystique around her image, almost like a suburban che’ figure chick, these dopes

  • Jonathan Ocab

    Unless she signed a model release giving the photographer permission commercial use of the photo, they owe her compensation. Even for ‘non-commercial’, portfolio photos, I’ll get a model release signed by a model so I don’t get any sort of flak in the future about publicly posting a photo of a model I photographed.

  • Freddie

    Her likeness is her property. The issue is not whether she was harmed or whether she is asking too much. The real issue is whether something that belongs to her was taken without her consent. I don’t think we get to say or judge whether her monetary damages are fair or reasonable. It’s not a question o be resolved by a show of hands. It quite literally her right to let a judge or jury decide. If her likeness is being exploited commercially in order to enrich the band then I think she should be compensated or at least they should obtain her consent. Even more so if she is a person (a model) accustomed to being paid or contracted for the commercial use of her likeness.

    • Skye

      Carrie Fisher once said in an interview that everytime she looked in the mirror she had to pay George Lucas money as he owns her likeness from Star Wars. If this woman signed a release form there is nothing she can do about them using her photo as she signed away that right a long time ago. I’ve done modeling in the past and the photographers who took my photos own the photos they took and can use them as is however they like, I was young and stupid when I signed the agreement but I have no say in the matter now.

  • Robert G.

    Sounds like an open and shut case. All he has to do is prove he paid her for posing for THIS picture.

    • Douglas

      He needs a sign release. Even if paid, if there isnt some form of contract, then the courts can rule in her favor. Thats why photographers always need to get that release when doing a shoot.

  • Hajib Abdulsteinskiçek

    Kennis is right unless she signed a release and we would need to know the details of that release. In 1983, I am sure it is written carelessly by this unknown photographer.

    • TonyInNYC

      He would have used a boilerplate release. He’d better hope he hasn’t lost it in the intervening 26 years.

  • Will

    If her mother sold hundreds of polaroids to various shops. Would that not also include the rights to the photographs and basically nullenvoiding any future profit from it?

    • Ryan

      No, it doesn’t. Just like if you buy a CD at the flea market, it doesn’t give you the rights to the music. You can’t consent to a song being used in, let’s say, a car commercial just because you own the CD.

    • Maty

      I don’t think you can reasonably expect every person who picked up one of these photos on a shop to call her and request permission for using it. she was compensated and gave up ownership when she took the initial $5. Too bad.

      • Eric Driscoll

        *buzzz* Wrong answer, sorry.

        Also, normally I would think she is just gold digging and condemn her for it, but Vampire Weekend sucks so hard that I really hope they lose (although it probably wont go to trial).

      • linusbean

        nope, Maty. It doesn’t work that way. You ABSOLUTELY have to get clearance.

      • Rory

        Consider this, if I go buy a magazine I can not re-use the pictures in it for other commercial purposes. I may own the magazine and the pictures in it but I do not own them. Example: I buy Entertainment Weekly with Green Lantern on it, think it would make a good album cover so I scan the picture and produce covers. How legal does that sound?

      • The photog

        So then don’t use the F^&ing picture.

    • Kat

      When the mother sold or gave away the picture, it was just that physical copy of the picture. To reproduce a photograph commercially you have to have the rights to the image, not just a copy of it.

  • Jennifer Grapentine

    They owe her compensation if the release wasn’t signed for use with “commercial” purposes. Most of those modeling contracts include specific photos/dates and the scope is narrowed as to their use.

    As a photographer myself, the photographer owed her the common courtesy of notifying her that her image was being used!

    • Jenn

      This lady obviously sees this as an opportunity for her to make money again. She knows the photographer took the phote; she probably just ran out of money, being a model decades ago, and jumped on this chance at obtaining another couple million dollars. I hate people like her…

      • Ardath

        “People like her?” Interesting term there. So if you discovered that your face was being used to shill a product without your knowledge or permission, you’d just say “be my guest?” Right. This is business, and what that band and (possibly) photographer did was BAD business.

      • Tam

        you spell like you think. Photographers do not take pictures in front of doors…not a very good picture for a photographer…anyone looked at the picture, seriously if thats professional this guy should be laughed out of the business

      • ojsimpson

        you’re pretty dumb, i want you on my jury too

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