Risqué photos of sixteen-year-old model, Hailey Clauson, are the subject of a recent lawsuit. In April 2011, Clauson's parents sued the original photographer, two boutique stores, and the national retail chain Urban Outfitters, Inc. for $28 million after the stores began selling t-shirts with a photograph of the model in a provocative position on a motorcycle. Clauson was only fifteen years old when she took the original photograph in March 2010. According to ABC news, Clauson's parents gave Jason Lee Parry, the photographer, permission to release the photos. Although the pictures ended up in Qvest, a European magazine, in summer 2010, Clauson's parents did not object to the reproduction of the photos until Urban Outfitters starting selling the t-shirts. Parry claims that he did not give the t-shirt company permission to put Clauson's photo on a t-shirt to be sold at Urban Outfitters. Clauson's parents have brought their suit under the NY Civil Rights Statutes §50 & §51, which states that it is illegal to use an image of a person for trade or commercial purposes without written consent. The central issue in this case will be whether the contract between Clauson and Parry authorizes Parry to use the photographs as he wishes. Parry has been so busy defending himself that he may not realize he could have his own copyright infringement claim against Urban Outfitters or the t-shirt company if he truly did not license his photographs to either establishment. Click here to watch Parry's interview on Good Morning America. Even in these types of emotional situations involving the reputation of a young girl, the New York courts will generally defer to the four corners of the contract instead of applying their own moral judgment. Click here to read about a similar New York case involving Brooke Shields and her modeling days in the '70s. Do you think that the Clauson's should lose the case if the contract gives Parry permission to use the photos however he wishes? Do you think it makes a difference that Hailey Clauson was only fifteen when she posed for the photograph?
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