A model has sued Volvo for its use of her photo in print and Internet ads, alleging that the Sweden-based car maker made her look like a Swedish escort, according to court documents.
Carolyn Giles, 30, says a photo exclusively for Volvo's S40 model car has turned up in ad after ad for all kinds of products from tourism to rental cars in at least 25 different countries, all without her consent. Giles is suing Volvo, Hertz and her modeling agency - Ford Models - for $23 million.
"I was paid $2,000 unlimited usage for Volvo for their S40 model," Giles told ABC News' Diana Perez.
The most offensive, unauthorized use of her image, she says, was on an Australian dating website promoting a night of socializing, sponsored by Volvo. The website, fastimpressions.com.au, invites singles to "spend a night with a Swedish model of your choice."
After the ad mentions the Swedish models, it says they come in the shape of four spectacular cars.
Volvo said in a statement that it was a play on words and "the 'sexy Swedish models' were cars, not escorts."
Ford Models declined to comment and Hertz did not respond to a request for comment.
Giles doesn't buy the play-on-words defense. "It took me really, really looking through it at least two times for me to even get to that," she said.
Giles says in the lawsuit that the promotion was done "to make it appear that she may be an escort with extreme sexual and inappropriate connotations and innuendos."
Volvo said Giles signed a release granting rights for "unlimited print and Internet placements worldwide for an unlimited time."
Giles disagrees with Volvo, saying, "The product is Volvo S40. I didn't say that Volvo could use my image for anything Volvo for the rest of my life."
ABC News legal analyst Dana Cole, who has no connection to the case, said, "It's not that Volvo can go around and peddle her pictures to anyone and everyone they choose to."
No matter what happens, Giles, who has been modeling for more than a decade, says her suit is about the principle.
"Even if I end up with nothing," she said, "I would just be happy if the industry standard changed and people started doing what they're supposed to do."
If anything, she just deep-sixed her career for good. Suing your agency (especially Ford) and a client? Not a smart move. "Unlimited usage" means they get unlimited usage of her image for all references to the Volvo S40.
The type of client (in this case, Volvo) really has nothing to do with her not being smart -- this type of contract is typical for any print model and any client, no matter the size. And really, $2K for one image isn't a bad deal. I'm surprised she didn't negotiate any residual income from that usage, though. But that might be if she wasn't a member of a union (SAG or AFTRA).
The Swedish inference had to do with the car, not the nationality of the model.
Location: in a Sofia Coppola film/Dior perfume ad... ♥
Originally Posted by Echoes
I'm not really sure what 'unlimited usage' means in that context. Does she get unlimited usage of the car or do they get unlimited usage of her image?
to my understanding it means the client (it can be a production company, advertising agency, or the ad agency's corporate client) gets unlimited usage of the image (or a series of images from a single photoshoot).
because normally you'd do a photoshoot for a product/service and the contract will state that they'll use an image for so-and-so purposes (billboards, online ads, brochures) for a year. if the company/ad agency decides to use the image for another year, you're supposed to get a renewal contract. i've seen other models sue companies for using their photos for longer than intended, but never for the MANNER they are used.
personally, i think unless you're desperate you shouldn't agree to unlimited use of your photos.
don't know how i feel about this. i've been scouted to model for ads before (because i'm short ), but i never pass auditions and even when i get pass a non-audition, i back down if i think it could ruin my reputation or jeopardize my career in the long-term (i want a job in international relations). ironically, i've actually seen a candid photo of myself on a bus advertising property/real estate. my mother noticed it first. we didn't sue. i was too lazy to sue. besides, we had property in the same neighborhood and wanted to in good terms with the developer. now that i'm broke, i wonder how much i could've gotten in damages.
Sorry but I if I accepted a deal to be in Volvo ads, all the Volvo ads Volvo wants, I would not be happy to see my image as the face of an escort service either
What she was paid, how smart she is, etc. . . is irrelevant to me.
She signed a deal for Volvo to use her image w/ one of the models of cars they offer. . .