SAVANNAH, Ga. (CN) - A happily married straight woman says a photo she took for a salon was uploaded to a stock database and used in several unauthorized ways, such as an advertisement for Match.com's dating service and an article on coming out of the closet.
Pharmaceutical rep Anne Read Lattimore sued Savannah photographer Roger Kirby, his company Blue Water Productions, Match.com, online marketing company Nanigans and The HealthCentral Network in Chatham County Court.
Lattimore claims the defendants contributed "to the unauthorized use of her likeness in advertising depicting her either as a homosexual who has 'come out' of the closet on multiple occasions or as a participant in the online dating site Match.com."
She says the imbroglio started when hairdresser Joseph Moody hired Kirby to create a website for his salon. Kirby photographed Lattimore in March 2008 after she received a haircut at the salon, and she verbally agreed to the exclusive publication of her photo on the salon's website, Lattimore claims.
"Mrs. Lattimore did not sign a model release or authorize the use, publication or distribution of the photograph for any purpose other than publication on Joseph's Salon's website," according to the complaint.
Kirby, however, uploaded Lattimore's photo to Stock.xchng, without her knowledge or consent, she claims.
"The 'stock.xchng' website, wholly owned by Getty Images, bills itself as the 'leading free stock photo site' and allows photographers to upload photographs onto the site," the complaint states. "Once uploaded, the photographs can be viewed and downloaded for free by anyone who accesses the website."
Getty Images is not named as a defendant.
Lattimore says her photo was downloaded from the website about 6,900 times between March 2008 and October 2010, when the website removed the photo at her request.
She says the website did not contain a release for the photo, but that the image license agreement linked to the photograph said "the image 'may not' be used '[t]o endorse products and services if it depicts a person.'"
The agreement also stated that it "cannot guarantee that you will be able to use the image for any purpose you like," according to the complaint.
In September 2010, Match.com and the Nanigans social marketing company downloaded Lattimore's photo from the website and used it to advertise online dating services on Facebook, Lattimore says.
"The Match.com campaign targeted potential new members and enticed them to join the Match.com online dating community by depicting attractive individuals that appeared to be existing Match.com users the target might meet on Match.com," the complaint states.
She says thousands of people across the country saw her face in the Match.com ad that portrays her as an active Match.com member.
"At least one individual known to Mrs. Lattimore viewed the ad and brought its existence to Mrs. Lattimore's husband's attention," the complaint states.
"Mrs. Lattimore is happily married and has never been a member of Match.com or any other online dating service," Lattimore says. "However, the Lattimore ad falsely portrayed Mrs. Lattimore as currently available for dating."
Using Lattimore's photo in a context that carries a connotation of infidelity could hurt her personal and professional reputation, according to the complaint.
Lattimore says she was also embarrassed when a medical marketing company called the HealthCentral Network posted her photo under the sexuality section of one website.
"The photograph was linked to an article on homosexuality," the complaint states. "By clicking on the image of Mrs. Lattimore, a visitor to the site was directed to an article entitled 'Come Out, Come Out, Wherever You Are.' The article discusses the difficulty and necessity of homosexuals admitting to themselves and the rest of the world that they are homosexual.
"Directly next to the image of Mrs. Lattimore was the statement: 'I've come out two thousand, three hundred and forty-five times. Okay, so I haven't actually counted, but it seems like that many.'"
Lattimore says she "is not homosexual and has never admitted to anyone that she was homosexual, i.e. she has never 'come out.' However, the placement of her image next to this article leads a viewer to believe that Mrs. Lattimore is homosexual and is telling her personal story about her experience of telling her family and friends about her homosexuality."
She says neither Match.com nor HealthCentral asked for her permission to use her image. And when she asked HealthCentral to publish a retraction, it failed to do so.
Lattimore seeks compensatory and punitive damages for defamation and misappropriation of likeness.
She is represented by John Patrick Connell with Ellis, Painter, Ratterree & Adams.