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Model Sues Over HIV Positive Advertisement

by Bobby McGuire
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Tuesday Sep 24, 2013

A Brooklyn woman is suing stock photo agency Getty Images for $450,000 for allegedly selling her photograph without her permission to the New York State division of Human Rights for use in an advertisement informing HIV positive people of their legal protections; the New York Daily News reports.

The advertisement in question features 25-year-old Avril Nolan of Greenpoint, Brooklyn, with the words: "I am positive (+) I have rights." The quarter page color ad ran in AM New York, a local free paper read primarily by commuters on subways and buses. According to their media kit, AM New York has a daily circulation of 337,700.

As reported in The New York Post, "Upon learning of the publication, [Nolan] became instantly upset and apprehensive that her relatives, potential romantic partners, clients as well as bosses and supervisors might have seen the advertisement," she says in court papers which go on to state, "Feeling humiliated and embarrassed, [Nolan] was forced to confess to her bosses that her image had been used in an advertisement for HIV services, implying that she was infected with HIV, in a newspaper often used by her own clients for advertising, and that is distributed to tens of thousands of New Yorkers every day."

The photograph at the center of the controversy was sold to Getty Images by Jenna Cumbo, who according to her website is "a New York based photographer specializing in playful fashion and lifestyle imagery." Cumbo, who admits to being an acquaintance of Nolan told the Post "I have been nothing but apologetic about how this happened," adding "I never intended for her picture to be used in this way."

According to Nolan's attorney, Erin Lloyd, the advertisement's publication is a violation of New York State law requiring signed releases for images used commercially. Cumbo claims that the image was originally used for a magazine editorial.

According to Getty Images' Contributors Guidelines:

Except as provided by the terms of your Contributor Agreement, you must supply digital copies of valid releases where appropriate for each Image at the time that the Image is submitted. You must attach a visual reference of the model or property to the original release.

According to the New York Post, Cumbo said that she never gave Getty a release and that the image was originally used for a magazine editorial.

"I made a mistake. I didn't understand my contract (with Getty)." Cumbo argued the Division of Human Rights crossed a line by casting Nolan as a victim of the deadly disease without contacting her.

Nolan's attorney said she that in addition to the Getty lawsuit, she will pursue claims against the Division of Human rights, who placed the ad.

As reported on GLAAD's blog, Seth Rosen, managing director of development, communications and marketing at the Gay Men's Health Crisis, the first and longest running HIV/AIDS organization, commented: "Setting aside the legal issues, the response of the model sadly points to the continuing stigma attached to people living with HIV and AIDS".


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