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A Lesson on Contracts: Model Sues Photographer After Her Pics Were Used on the Covers of Erotica eBooks

I’m not usually one to quote the Daily Mail, but in their Sunday edition they published an article which, once you look past the salacious details, offers a useful lesson in knowing the difference between a written and a verbal contract:

Nicole Forni, a professional model from Cleveland, Ohio, claims that she only agreed to pose for the provocative pictures on the condition that they were not sold on for any 'adult-oriented' purposes.

But after the shoot she and her family found the images used on websites for sex guides in Germany and Spain, an escort website in Switzerland, as well as gracing the cover an erotic e-book entitled Horny Housewives of Dubai: Episode 4.

The model is demanding $75,000 from Joshua Resnick, who took the photographs, alongside the slew of sex-related companies who allegedly used them.

Her images have been used on at least two different erotica covers, the NYPost reports.

Update: the photographer disputes a number of details.

While I have some sympathy for her embarrassment, and I don’t want to come across as blaming the model, Forni is going to have an uphill court battle.  You see, she made a verbal agreement the photographer that the photos not be used on adult sites, and then signed a standard release contract which didn’t mention the verbal agreement.

This is a perfect example of why everyone, including authors, should always get key contract terms in writing. Or at the very least, get the agreement in some type of permanent form. Even an email exchange would have been better than a verbal agreement because it would offer proof that an agreement had been reached.

Yes, a verbal agreement is a contract, but without a permanent record this case could come down to he said she said. Forni could still win, but at this point it will come down to who has the better lawyer and whether the judge is sympathetic.


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Amber December 7, 2014 um 6:26 pm

This might seem like a really clueless question but what did she think those photo were going to be use for if not adult oriented products? You would have thought she would have asked and got it in the written contract if it was that important to her.

Nate Hoffelder December 7, 2014 um 6:39 pm

I was trying to avoid attacking her, but that was my main question as well.

I do wonder if this was all fake outrage intended to generate media attention and boost her career, but we honestly have nothing to justify that accusation.

Tyler December 7, 2014 um 10:16 pm

I am a photographer and I think some models are clueless as to what the model release form really is. It is to protect the photographer not the model. I have had a few minor issues with models as to respect to their images. Nothing as to getting sued but some who think that they own their images when they really don’t.

Nate Hoffelder December 8, 2014 um 7:32 am

Yes. One can usually tell who the contract favors by who wrote it.

neuse river sailor December 7, 2014 um 6:39 pm

I can’t help but laugh, even though I feel for the girl. What else would they be used for, children’s books? Cook books, maybe? I’d chalk this one down to live and learn, and get on with life.

Reader December 8, 2014 um 1:45 pm

I’m not usually one to quote the Daily Mail.

While I doubt the Daily Mail has many articles in the topics of this blog, it often will cover events in the US which the mainstream media will not- or before the mainstream media covers them. You could do worse than the Daily Mail.

Nate Hoffelder December 8, 2014 um 1:47 pm

In the UK it is known as the Daily Fail, and with good reason. It’s a known fact that the Daily Mail out and out fabricates a certain percentage of their clickbait stories.

Bara Minata December 8, 2014 um 11:12 pm

Verbal agreement aside, what other purpose did she think the pictures will be used for?

Nate Hoffelder December 8, 2014 um 11:15 pm

That question has us all baffled.

A Second Lesson on Contracts: Model sues Photographer After Pics Used on Erotica eBooks, Photog Says It's Not His Fault ⋆ The Digital Reader January 13, 2015 um 3:42 pm

[…] a month ago I shared the tale of one model who sued a photographer after her lingerie-clad photos showed up […]

Vanya D. January 14, 2015 um 10:04 am

I don’t know why a model would complain if her pictures got used all over the place. Isn’t that the point? And for goodness sake, if she didn’t get naked before the camera, there wouldn’t be an issue now, would there?

Terms of Use: self-publishing, sex and eBook covers – Behind the Chintz Curtain May 5, 2015 um 12:33 am

[…] yeah. And this case in particular is a pretty good example of a photograph that appears to be more adult-oriented in […]

The Recent Tintin Ruling Offers a Valuable Reminder that Creators Need to Understand the Contracts They Sign | Ink, Bits, & Pixels June 17, 2015 um 10:01 pm

[…] we learned late last year when that model sued the photographer, that will not protect against all lawsuits. But it is the […]

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