Recently we stumbled across an interesting case in which a Greek man sued a Swedish diary company over a Turkish yoghurt image which the company purchased from an Icelandic image stock company which they purchased from a French photographer.
Again: Greek guy –> sues Swedish firm –> because of an image of him used on the packaging of a Turkish yoghurt brand –> which was bought from an Icelandic image stock company –> which licensed it from a French photographer.
This case is a good example why we always recommend to pay great attention to have solid and easy-to-understand model release form with any person who appears on an image which is used for commercial purposes (and regardless if those are employees, models or friends).
What basically happened was that 77-year-old, traditional Greek farmer Minas Karatzoglis was photographed by a French travel photographer called Yvan Travert who sold the image to an image stock agency called Nordicphotos who licensed the image to the Swedish diary company Lindahls, which used to the image to brand one of their Turkish yoghurt products in a couple of different countries.
So Lindahls did not do anything wrong, as they had purchased the appropriate rights!
The problem was that the French photographer did not have a proper release from of Mr. Karatzoglis, therefore he actually did not have the right to license the image to the image stock company!
So when Mr. Karatzoglis found out about this unrightfull use of his image, he sued Lindahls for $6.9 million US (according to Sveriges Radio (SR) Jönköping). Greece and Turkey have been divided by long-standing hostilities, making it an even hotter topic!
This was in April 2010, how did it turn out at the end?
Lindahls has paid $270,000 US in compensation to Mr. Karatzoglis! Obviously Lindahl is now seeking compensation from the photo agency, and the photo agency probably from the photographer!
Lesson learned – Be sure to have model release!