Anne Read Lattimore says she is not gay and has never been a member of the dating site Match.com. Yet, she has become a sort of public face for both. How that happened is the subject of a new lawsuit.
This story, as reported by Courthouse News, started innocently enough when Lattimore allowed a photographer named Roger Kirby to snap her picture when she was her getting her hair cut in a salon in 2008. Kirby was being paid to take photos of the salon. Before long, though, Kirby’s photograph of Lattimore began appearing in unexpected places like Match.com and the sexuality section of website HealthCentral. Lattimore claims she was embarrassed after friends told her husband that her image was on the dating site and after she learned that her photo accompanied an article on homosexuality called “Come Out, Come Out Wherever You Are.”
Lattimore says she is not gay and has never been a member of Match.com. A Facebook page for a person from Savannah with her name depicts a young blonde woman and a man.
So how did Lattimore come to be the unwitting face of internet singles and closeted gays? It turns out that Kirby’s photograph was uploaded to a gallery of stock photos owned by Getty, a company that supplies images for third parties. Ordinarily, such photos are provided with terms that ensure third parties have the right to use them, but something appears to have gone very wrong in this case. Lattimore says she never consented to public use of her image, which was nonetheless downloaded 6,900 times.
Lattimore is suing Kirby, Match.com and HealthCentral for defamation and for misappropriation of likeness. (Getty is not named as a defendant in the suit because it included a disclaimer saying not for commercial use and a user-beware warning.) A right-to-likeness claim typically involves using someone’s name or image without permission in a commercial context, and so this would appear to be a slam-dunk for Ms. Lattimore. As for defamation, she would ordinarily have to show that her reputation has been been harmed by an untrue allegation. But being called “unchaste” is one of four types of statements considered automatically defamatory so Ms. Lattimore may try to argue that Match.com falsely called her chastity into question when it depicted her as one of its models.
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