A NEW York woman is suing a major stock photo company after she found her image splashed across ads in city newspapers about the rights of HIV-positive people.
A perfectly healthy Avril Nolan, 25, was alerted by Facebook and her pilates instructor after a quarter-page colour ad ran in the free newspaper am New York
on April 3, 2012.
Next to her face were the words "I am positive (+)" and "I have rights."
The message, paid for by the New York State Division of Human Rights, continued that "people who are HIV positive are protected by the New York State Human Rights Law."
Nolan, who works in PR, says a New York photographer named Jena Cumbo took the snap, but "had no written release or authorisation" to use or sell the image, she said in the $450,000 Manhattan civil suit against Getty Images.
"Upon learning of the publication, [Ms 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 wrote in the court papers.
"Feeling humiliated and embarrassed, [Ms 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."
She believes that Getty, a giant purveyor of stock photography, regularly retains copies of model releases but it "never requested proof that [Ms Nolan] had executed a legally enforceable and binding written model release."
Cumbo, the photographer who took the shoot, described herself as an acquaintance of Ms Nolan.
"I have been nothing but apologetic about how this happened," Cumbo told The Post. "I never intended for her picture to be used in this way."
Cumbo confirmed that she never gave Getty a release. She said the photo was originally used for a magazine editorial.
Getty did not immediately return messages seeking comment.