Dr. Isobel Stevens, supermodel surgeon with a heart of gold (aka Katherine Heigl), filed suit Wednesday against Duane Reade, alleging the drugstore chain utilized her image as a promotional photo without her consent.
Heigl wants $6 million in compensation for a tweet they posted last month of Heigl holding several Duane Reade bags with a caption claiming she “can’t resist” shopping at “NYC’s favorite drugstore.” The suit states Heigl is a “…highly recognized celebrity…When plaintiff chooses to endorse a product or service, she is highly selective and well compensated.”
Should Heigl be victorious in court, the suit will provide an interesting precedence regarding how the law defines free speech over social media. Heigl’s defense cites the Lanham Act, which contains provisions against false advertising. This will require evidence of Duane Reade’s commercial intentions, which may be difficult to prove considering the nature of the medium.
Interestingly, Heigl’s suit comes on the heels of a public plea for funding made last month for her indie film Jenny’s Wedding. She ruffled some feathers when she jumped on the bandwagon of wealthy celebrities participating in crowd sourcing for their pet projects. However, Heigl's plans to donate any winnings to the Jason Debus Heigl Foundation (an animal charity named for her late brother) should appease naysayers.
Perhaps Duane Reade’s mistake was directly tagging the celebrity in the tweet, as it’s doubtful the Katherine Heigls of the world follow their local drugstore chains on Twitter. But no matter the outcome of the lawsuit, the media coverage will provide a much needed publicity boost for Heigl, who has several upcoming projects besides the flailing Jenny's Wedding, including animated feature The Nut Job and film North of Hell.
Whoa, maybe that was her intention all along.
Image via Wikimedia Commons