A model, whose stock photo was used in an New York State ad campaign advocating for the rights of HIV+ people, and portraying her as HIV+, has successfully sued the state for for defamation and a violation of her publicity rights. The model had posed for an article about New Yorkers' music interests, but the photographer sold the image to Getty, which licensed it to the NYS Division of Human Rights for the campaign. The model had not signed a release.
The New York court found that despite society's evolving views on HIV and AIDS, the plaintiff still met the "loathsome disease" standard for proving defamation per se.
While this case may be unusual in its facts, it underscores the fact that, even if a stock photo is appropriately obtained, the underlying rights of those shown in the photo must also be obtained.
A woman was defamed by the state's use of her picture with words falsly identifying her as having HIV in a 2013 advertisement opposing discrimination against those infected with the virus, a Court of Claims judge has determined.