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NBAWeird But True

Excited Lady On Magic Billboards Sues Magic For Using Her Excited Likeness Without Permission


Kristi Slavin was excited, that’s all. Just cheering on her beloved Magic, wearing a Dwight Howard jersey (uh, sorry about that part, Kristi), and holding up a sign further indicating how hard she’s cheering for her beloved Magic. And she wishes none of us knew any of that. Slavin, as you might have guessed, is the woman in the photo above, and she’s not happy about it:

Slavin has sued the basketball franchise, claiming it used a photo of her face and upper body — without her permission — in a marketing campaign.

[...]

The image appeared on light-post banners, in a tourist magazine and, enlarged, on the back of a Lynx bus.

The lawsuit, filed last month by Winter Park attorney Hank Hornsby, contends the Magic profited from the commercial and promotional use of Slavin’s face and body, but the team neither compensated nor consulted her.

According to the Orlando Sentinel, the Magic wouldn’t comment on suit, besides saying they’re aware it exists. And at first blush, it all sounds bad: unauthorized appropriation of her image for commercial use! Profits! They did it without talking to her! While it might sound bad, though, a point raised to the Sentinel by Stetson University law professor Darryl C. Wilson highights why no matter how bad it sounds, it probably doesn’t matter:

Wilson pointed out that a disclaimer on the back of Orlando Magic game tickets also serves as a waiver of rights. It warns that the ticket-holder is giving the NBA team “the irrevocable and unrestricted right and license” to use the holder’s image in “any medium or context” and specifically mentions promotional purposes “without further authorization or compensation.”

Aaaaaaaand that pretty much blows up every point mentioned above. No authorization? “We warned you,” the Magic can say. No compensation? “Told ya,” they’ll respond. On the one hand, it does suck that the fine print allows the team to legally do all that. While, as Wilson also pointed out, the fact that Slavin isn’t a public figure hurts her case that she needs to be compensated for the Magic’s use of her image, let’s face it: she’s an attractive young woman. She wasn’t chosen by accident. The Magic wanted an attractive person to make their product loo similarly attractive. Their ticket disclaimer allowed them to do it on the cheap.

Still, though: it allowed them to do it. Slavin’s lawyer complains that the team offered her nothing: well, sure sounds like they didn’t have to. The line “Slavin’s lawyer said no fan reasonably expects to surrender privacy rights simply by walking into a sports venue”? Well…they do. Is it sneaky, getting people with the fine print like that? Sure – this is the kind of stuff credit card companies make a killing on. But is it legal? We’d be pretty surprised if the courts said no.

[New York Daily News]

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