February 27, 2009

Jenny From The Docket: J.Lo Sues Silver Cross For Unauthorized Promo

jlo_outofsight.jpgGod bless Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony. The couple and their company, Nuyorican Productions, Inc. have filed a $30 million copyright infringement suit against fusty prammaker Silver Cross for using a photograph of them pushing some prams to, well, push the company's prams.

That's right, though the complaint, filed in California Central District court, claims Silver Cross "knowingly and intentionally misappropriated and used the names, images, likenesses and photographs," Access Hollywood, which obtained the filing specifically and repeatedly mentions a photograph. A single photograph. is at the root of the case. [Other documents in the case are online, but the complaint AH quotes fromis not. Not sure how common that is.]

At first glance, by suing a baby product company for mentioning celebrity users of their product, it sounds like J.Lo is attacking the black, soulless core of the Celebrity Baby Industrial Complex. Celebrities get pregnant, companies send them mountains of product, paparazzi take photos of celebrity parents out on the town, celebrity-worshipping media buys photos, celebrity gets coverage. What's wrong with that, right? It's the American Way.

But J.Lo's case is different in at least three respects, and that means Silver Cross is screwed, and hurriedly taking down the offending photo from their website ain't gonna be enough to help them.

1] The photo is not a paparazzi photo. So Silver Cross did not have authorization to use it. The infringed image, according to the court filing, was shot by celebrity photographer Tony Duran, who has shot J.Lo so many times, she gets her own separate tab on his portfolio site. It was from a photoshoot done exclusively for People Magazine, at the Nuyoricans' home. You can see a much-shrunken, low-res, stamped, and hence fair use-exempt version of the image here:


Sure enough, those are fusty prams. Balmorals, to be exact, $2,500 apiece--if you bought them, and who in the world believes celebrities actually buy this stuff? We all know they get it for free, and that their use of the gear indicates at least a tacit approval of the use of their name and/or likeness for promotional purposes, right? Right?

Except 2] Silver Cross did not give them the prams. According to Silver Cross's deleted blog post, "Little Maximiano [sic] and Emelina (Max & Emme) will enjoy the greatest comfort in the iconic British classics that Jennifer ordered from exclusive baby boutique Petit Tresor." Why any pregnant celebrity would shop at a store whose entire business model is based on pimping out its customer's information--or just making shit up about celebrities shopping there--and then complain about misuse of her image is beyond me.. So yeah, it's entirely possible that J.Lo never ordered anything, but Petit Tresor and Silver Cross just figure it's fine to say they did, who cares?

Only there's another story. According to Celebrity Baby Blog, the article that ran wtith People magazine's exclusive photos said that "Eva Longoria Parker and Ken Paves gave [J.Lo and M.An] a pair of Silver Cross prams." [CBB has since been acquired by People. So far, there's no mention of the lawsuit on the site.]

Ah, people who need People. 3] People reportedly paid $6 million for US rights to the photos. Which means that not only do Lopez and Anthony control the rights to the photos, now they're in the business of making money off their kids and their images as parents.

The irony--or one of the ironies--is that in addition to $5 million damages on six of the eight counts in the complaint, Lopez and Anthony are seeking attorneys fees--"and profits associated with the sale of the baby buggy." As if anyone actually bought a Balmoral in the first place.

Silver Cross makes the antique Balmoral because it has to; the prams' halo effect hopefully gives some luster to the company's other, run-of-the-Chinese-mill products, like a money-losing couture collection. only not as relevant.

I would contact Silver Cross to hear their take on things, but I still haven't heard back from their US rep from a couple of weeks ago, whe I asked if they were still operating in the US.

J.Lo sues stroller company for $30 million [msnbc thanks dt reader mh]


FT link

$30mil is (coincidentally?) Silver Cross's entire annual sales volume.

Does anyone else feel that the Lopez-Anthonys are increasingly irrelevant? Perhaps it's just me, as I'm not a 'People' person, but it seems since jLo got married (this last time) she's all but dropped off the map, barring tabloids.

This is so much the wrong thing to be upset about. Do you see that pram on the right? The apron is on the hood!!! On the HOOD, folks, just tossed there! For a multi-million photo shoot!

That pricey apron belongs lovingly snapped over the pram bed, snugly cocooning the cherub inside, not tossed like a rag on the roof.

This is wrong, dead wrong. As a long-standing professional pram advocate, I wanted to arrest the Lopez-Anthonys, the photographer, and their stylist the moment I saw the photos in the magazine. (Which I wouldn't have seen if some news outlet hadn't alerted me to the carriages within.)

Cooler heads prevailed, but perhaps Silver Cross could initiate an action based on clear evidence of pram abuse? Surely if you buy the thing for $2500 to $3000, you must agree to treat it with reverence, no? I mean, buying a pram these days is really a lot like adopting an endangered animal, isn't it? There are inherent responsibilities here, people!

And, yeah, Silver Cross's actual strollers are what's really irrelevant. Sigh.

God Bless YOU, Curator, for that awesome rant. It must have been a rough year since that photo came out, keeping that all bottled up inside...

Ah, if only you knew . . .

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