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Advertising Law

Mom Sues After Stock Photo of Her Daughter Is Used on Anti-Abortion Billboard

Posted Apr 27, 2011 11:43 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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A New Jersey mother says in a lawsuit that she had to explain the facts of life to her 6-year-old daughter after a stock photo of the girl appeared on an anti-abortion billboard aimed at African-Americans.

The suit filed by mother Tricia Fraser says the group Life Always and its ad agency used a stock photo of her daughter, taken when she was 4, even though the release she signed banned defamatory uses of the photo. The Manhattan billboard showed a picture of Anissa Fraser in a sun dress with the words, "The most dangerous place for an African-American is in the womb."

The Associated Press, Ad Week and Courthouse News Service have coverage of the New York suit (PDF posted by Courthouse News), which calls the ad campaign “racist” and “controversial.”

“While Life Always and Heroic Media certainly have the right to engage in such offensive speech,” the lawsuit says, “they do not have the right to exploit the likeness of an innocent child to do so. Defendants' conduct is illegal; it violates the express terms of a contract and New York statute."

Tricia Fraser says she took her daughter to be photographed in response to an ad seeking models for family photos, and her only compensation was a copy of the photos. She was led to believe the photos would be used to promote the photographer’s work, the suit claims.

The controversial billboard has caused Anissa to suffer emotional distress and has harmed her budding modeling career, according to the suit.

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