In 2012, world-renowned supermodel Coco Rocha agreed to be photographed for the cover of one of Elle’s magazine publications, Elle Brazil. Rocha posed for the pictures in a dress with significant cutouts, covered only by a sheer layer of skin-toned fabric. In keeping with her firm policy of no full or partial nudity, Rocha wore a bodysuit underneath the dress to limit her exposure. When Elle published the magazine, the final product shocked Rocha; the magazine had altered the image to remove her bodysuit, giving the impression Rocha had shown more skin than she in fact had. Rocha took to her personal blog to express her frustration and disappointment at Elle’s disrespectful editing.
Unfortunately, this problem is not limited to Rocha—she is only one of many models and celebrities who have expressed frustration about excessive image manipulation. The right to privacy and right of publicity protect individuals’ abilities to control when their identities are promulgated and when their identities are commercially used, respectively. But these rights only protect people’s decisions regarding when their image is shared by requiring permission; if permission has been granted, the right to privacy and right of publicity do not address individuals’ rights to control how their image is subsequently portrayed.
This Note identifies gaps in current relevant law and the resulting need to recognize individuals’ right to control not just when their image is used commercially or otherwise, but how it is used. Part I introduces the right to privacy and the right of publicity, and explains the current state of the law in those areas as it applies to digitally manipulated celebrity images. Part II then offers a critical analysis of current law and evaluates whether it effectively allows individuals to control how their identity is used. Finally, Part III proposes solutions to the law’s shortcomings in an attempt to better protect individuals’ right to determine how their identity is publicly represented.
Jessica L. Williams-Vickery,
A (Thigh) Gap in the Law: Addressing Egregious Digital Manipulation of Celebrity Images,
Ga. St. U. L. Rev.
Available at: https://readingroom.law.gsu.edu/gsulr/vol34/iss3/6