TAMPA , Fla., July 31 /PRNewswire/ -- Teenaged photographer Lara Jade Coton never expected one of her photos to turn up on the cover of a pornographic movie. She certainly never expected to see a picture of herself on such a movie. But that is exactly what Lara Jade found when she discovered that an innocent self-portrait, taken when she was only 14 years old, was obtained offthe Internet and used without permission as the DVD cover and face art for thesexually explicit movie "Body Magic."
"I was absolutely horrified to see my work and my own picture being usedon that kind of movie," said Lara Jade. "It's just appalling."
What's even more appalling, according to Lara Jade's attorney, is the wayshe was treated when she contacted TVX Films of Texas and asked them to stopusing her picture. Richard A. Harrison, attorney with Tampa-based Allen Dell P.A., said the company responded first by ridiculing the young woman, then byaccusing her of trying to perpetrate some kind of scam. "Adding insult toinjury," Harrison says, "the company had the audacity to blame Lara Jade forthe disappointing sales of its porn movie."
Bob Burge , president of TVX Films, told Lara Jade in an email, "Actually,removing your image will help improve the sale of the DVD. So far it bombed."
In a lawsuit filed today in federal court in Tampa , Florida, Lara Jadeaccuses Burge and TVX Films of copyright infringement, civil conspiracy,misappropriation of her image, invasion of privacy and intentional inflictionof emotional distress. The suit also names other online retailers of the moviein claims for copyright infringement.
"We're asking a jury to award damages, including punitive damages, for theoutrageous conduct of Burge and TVX," Harrison said. "We're also asking thecourt to stop these pornographers from using the picture and to impound anycopies of the movie or other materials on which Lara Jade's picture appears."
Harrison is also consulting with state and federal law enforcementagencies. "If it's not a crime to put a 14-year-old child on the cover of aporn video, it sure ought to be," he said.
The case demonstrates a dilemma facing artists today and reveals yetanother danger of the Internet for teens and children. While the Internetoffers creative people a worldwide outlet for their work, it's also common forartists to find that their work has been borrowed innocently or just plainstolen by others.
For parents, the case demonstrates how easily children can becomevictimized in the age of social networking sites like MySpace and Facebook."This amazing technology allows us all to share our photos with friends andloved ones, but parents must realize that any picture a child puts on theInternet is about three mouse clicks away from being stolen by anybody,"Harrison warned. "And as this case shows, it could be used for anything,including pornography."
Lara Jade Coton is an 18 year old photographer and college student whoresides in England. She took up photography at the age of 14 and also worksin photo manipulation and digital art. Her work can be seen athttp://www.larajade.com .
Allen Dell , P.A. is a leading Tampa law firm. It has been established in Tampa for more than 80 years and maintains a diverse civil practice. Thefirm's website is at www.allendell.com .
SOURCE Allen Dell , P.A.