Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Lawsuit Over 'A Gronking To Remember' Cover Photo

An Ohio couple claims an erotic novel self-published by "Lacey Noonan" included a cover photo of them without their permission. They have filed a lawsuit against the author.

"A Gronking to Remember" is a book about the real-life New England football player Rob Gronkowski--who has publicly read selections from the book several times.

The cover in question is this one at the story from the New York Daily News. This cover photo has been replaced by another on the Amazon website.

The book's copyright page says the cover images are "fully licensed" from iStockPhoto.com and ShutterStock.com. But does this apply to the new cover, the old cover--or both?

According to the complaint (a copy is here):
The photograph of the Plaintiffs contained on the cover of this book constitutes their persona to which the Plaintiffs own a right of publicity for commercial purposes. Plaintiffs never gave written or any other form of consent to the appropriation of their persona.
Thousands of authors are self-publishing their novels on Amazon, Apple iTunes, and Barnes & Noble through services such as Smashwords, and many of them buy photos from stock photo websites to create covers for their books. Are you as an author safe from legal liability if you buy and use photos from websites such as iStockPhoto.com and ShutterStock.com?

Did the photo of the couple come from one of those websites--or from somewhere else on the internet? Who holds the copyright? Under what terms is a writer permitted to legally use it as part of a cover of a book?

It's a story to watch for self-publishing authors concerned with these questions.

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