Models Sue New York Strip Clubs Over Unauthorized Use of Photos

I wonder if plaintiffs’ attorney took his retainer in dollar bills. A group of models, including former Playboy Playmates, have sued several New York strip clubs claiming that their images were used without permission to make customers believe they work at the clubs, when they do not.

Model Jessa Hinton in an alleged unauthorized advertisement.

So I have been informed that strip clubs are places where dancers remove their clothing in the hopes of receiving tips. Who knew? These strip clubs routinely use social media and print advertisements to lure customers into their establishments. These ads feature provactive photographs, as can be seen herein, that you would assume feature dancers that work at the clubs, but in this case the models do not and they are upset about it. Plainitffs in this case are professional models, some former Playboy Playmates, that include the following: Tiffany Toth, Gemma Lee, Jessa Hinton and eight others who earn their livelihood modeling and selling their images to companies, magazines and individuals for the purpose of advertising products and services. According to the complaint, plaintiffs are necessarily selective concerning the companies, and brands, for which they model because the modeling industry place a high degree of value on their good will and reputation, which is critical in order to maximize their earning potential.
The defendants are New York area strip clubs including, New York Dolls, Private Eyes and Flashdancers, that allegedly used images of models that were intentionally altered to make it appear that the model was either a stripper working at the clubs or that they endorsed the club. The models have never worked for the clubs and were never paid by the clubs to use their likeness. Plaintiffs claim that defendants knowingly, and without the prior consent, invaded plaintiffs’ privacy by using their images for commercial purposes in order to promote their clubs, create the false impression that plaintiffs worked at the clubs and did so in order to attract clientele to the clubs.
Plaintiffs claim violation of numerous rights of publicity laws and defamation and seek damages no less than $75,000, punitive damages, and their attorneys’ fees. This was one of two lawsuits filed for the same exact conduct against other clubs. Seems strange that all these strip clubs would just use the images without permission.  These ads have been running for some time (including some for a year and a half) without prior legal action so there is probably a lot more to this story than what we know from the complaint. Perhaps some on scene legal research is needed to get to the bottom of this dispute.
private