Gossip Site That Uses Misidentified Photo May Be Liable for Publicity Rights Violation — Edme v. Internet Brands

23 09 2013

[Post by Venkat Balasubramani]

Edme v. Internet Brands, Inc., 12 cv 3306, 2013 U.S. Dist LEXIS 132008 (E.D.N.Y. Sept. 16, 2013)

In what seems more like a law school exam scenario than real life, a woman who was mistakenly identified as Kimora Lee Simmons’ younger sister sued Modelmayhem and celebrity gossip blogs Media Takeout and Bossip.
The court dismisses the claim as to Modelmayhem and Bossip, but allows the claims to go forward against Media Takeout.

The plaintiff, Shana Edme, posted modeling photos on Modelmayhem. It’s unclear how exactly Media Takeout got the photos, but it did, and it published an article about Edme accompanied by lingerie photos:

WOWZERS!! WE GOT PICS OF KIMORA LEE SIMMONS’ YOUNGER SISTER . . . IN LINGERIE!! (LOOKS LIKE KIMMY . . . ONLY THICK) Her name is Shana Lee . . . and she looks just like her big sis Kimmy . . . August 4, 2011. Kimmy’s sister’s name is Shana and she’s looking to get into the modeling world.

Later that day, Bossip debunked Media Takeout story, pointing out that Shana was not Kimora Lee’s sister:

Rumor Control: Kimora Lee Simmons Says ‘That Lil Trashy Lingerie Wearing Heffa is NOT my Sister.’

[Eric’s terminology note: I’m not sure what a “heffa” is. Urban Dictionary has several definitions of equal plausibility; and while none of them are flattering, I also suspect that none of them could support a defamation claim.]

Bossip also reposted Edme’s photo from Modelmayhem. Edme sued all three, asserting claims under a New York privacy statute. (NY Daily News: “Shana Edme isn’t Kimora Lee Simmons’ sister! Wanna-be attorney seeking $3 million in damages after gossip website runs bogus story and sexy pics.”)


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