In a judgement dated yesterday, September 16, the judge in the Lara Jade Coton case has awarded the photographer $130,000 in damages after a self-portrait of her was used as the cover art and the disc art for a pornographic DVD.
The case began in 2007 when the defendants in the case, Robert Burge and his company Televised Visual X-Ography used Coton’s photograph when they distributed a pornographic DVD entitled “Body Magic”. Coton, who was 14 at the time the photo was taken, was seen wearing a formal dress and a top hat while posing in front of a window.
Coton, who was outraged at the use of her image, immediately demanded that Burge stop use of the image. Burge said that the error was with his designer but said that he had recalled the DVDs and was changing the cover art. However, according to Coton’s attorney, Richard Harrison, they had not changed the art on the disc itself and were continuing to sell copies of it with Coton’s image.
Coton sued Burge and TVX citing a wide range of torts including copyright infringement, misappropriation of image, defamation and infliction of emotional distress.
The case had dragged on for the past three years, with Burge and TVX being found in default, and it eventually proceeded to bench trial on damages alone in July.
Coton had asked the court for some $434,000 in damage totalled but the judge awarded $129,173.20 in the case, saying that some of the claims were impermissible double recovery and denied punitive damages citing that Burge’s actions lacked malice.
This is a breaking story and I will have a more thorough evaluation of the judgment later as well as a more thorough write-up on the case itself. In the meantime, feel free to review the order granting final judgment for yourself.
Congratulations to Lara Jade and Richard Harrison for a hard-fought and very important win.