Mighty Aphrodite! About eleven months ago, denizens of New York’s Lower East Side were tickled and surprised to see an iconic image of Woody Allen (from the film “Annie Hall”) being used in an American Apparel ad. (Idol Chatter covered it here.) Mainly, we were surprised to see the ad because AA is known for its provocative, sexy/creepy ads, and Woody Allen–as rabbi, no less–didn’t seem to fit the pattern. (Not that I’m Deconstructing Woody.)
But now, Allen is suing American Apparel for $10 million, reports the New York Post–the lawsuit “accuses the company of violating his civil rights and implying that he endorses the company”:

The photo at the center of the dispute comes from a scene in “Annie Hall” in which Allen’s character, Alvy Singer, meets girlfriend Annie Hall’s WASP family.
“Allen was unaware that AAI was going to utilize his image on its billboards and Web site. Allen was not contacted, nor did he in any way give his consent to the use of his image and likeness and he was not in any way compensated,” the suit alleged.
“AAI’s unlawful use of Allen’s image for commercial advertising purposes is especially egregious and damaging because Allen does not commercially endorse any products in the Unites States of America.”

According to The Post, “Allen claims he continues to suffer from the ad’s effects and an image of the billboard is still available online through press articles about the billboard.”
Um, ok. That’s true. (Match Point.) I’m not sure how the ad contributes to a negative effect on Allen, but perhaps the point is that no one asked permission first, and he doesn’t want to be seen as endorsing any product when he isn’t. I suppose that’s fair.
But in today’s world the issue of image rights is pretty complicated; whereas Allen might have had an easy victory in previous decades, today, image theft is largely considered not a crime nor a misdemeanor. It’s an open-source world, generally, although I believe that Allen has been in the business long enough to know how to protect his creative and intellectual property rights. I guess time (and the American justice system) will give us all the Sweet and Lowdown soon enough.
(Enough Allen titles for you?)

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