Bride and Groom Sue Wedding Photographer

By Jennifer E. Rothman
October 27, 2015

A married couple sued their wedding photographer, not for bad photos, but for violating their rights of publicity by using their wedding photos in promotional brochures. The couple explicitly opted out of allowing the use of their photographs other than for their own personal use. The couple retained the copyright in their wedding photographs and registered their copyrights in the images. The complaint includes claims for copyright infringement, misappropriation of likeness, right of publicity, and unfair trade practices.  The plaintiffs seek damages for both emotional and economic injuries, as well as injunctive relief.  The complaint does not specifically make a claim under Pennsylvania’s statutory right of publicity, perhaps because the plaintiffs did not develop the “commercial value” of their identities as required under the statute.  The facts raise a breach of contract claim, but none is pled in the complaint.  This case harkens back to the earliest right to privacy cases in which courts recognized an implied contract between customers and photographers that limits the ability of photographers to display photographs without the permission of the subjects that paid for those images.

Complaint in Hines v. Pros Entertainment Servs. (Filed E.D. Pa. Oct. 22, 2015)