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Hustler Magazine had no right to publish wet t-shirt photo without owner’s consent

6th Circuit upholds jury verdict against the porn publisher

This wet t-shirt contest is all washed up.

The 6th Circuit ruled on Thursday that Hustler Magazine should not have published a photo of a news anchor dancing in a wet t-shirt contest without her consent. Use of the image was not protected under the First Amendment, as the pornography publisher argued.

The picture came into being in 2003 when an amateur photographer snagged some snapshots of news anchor Catherine Bosley competing in a wet t-shirt contest while on vacation in Florida. The photos ended up online, as such photos are wont to do, and Bosley lost her job.

After that unfortunate incident, Bosley and her husband acquired the rights to the images from the photographer, and registered them with the U.S. Copyright Office. In 2006 Hustler Magazine printed one of the photos in a series titled “Hot News Babes,” and Bosley received $135,000 for copyright infringement, along with attorney’s fees, in a jury verdict.

In its appeal to the 6th Circuit, the magazine and its parent, Larry Flynt Publications (a company that is no stranger to First Amendment cases) claimed their lawyer told them they could publish the picture under the fair use exception.

The court did not agree, saying that the magazine’s primary motivation was to make money, not to sell a story.

Read more at Thomson Reuters.


For more InsideCounsel stories about copyright, see below:

Michael Jackson sites taken down for copyright violations

Authors sue Google over book digitization project

What “South Park” can teach us about fair use

Viacom v. YouTube raises copyright infringement questions

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