It is common practice for companies selling a variety of products and services to enlist the help of a public figure in promoting their brand. This type of advertising can be especially effective with beauty products, fragrances, and food and beverages, but a celebrity endorsement is a partnership. In exchange for allowing the company to use their name and/or likeness, the celebrity usually receives a cut of the profits, whether that’s in the form of royalties, shares in the company, or just a straight endorsement payment.
But Venus Legacy allegedly did not provide Sofia Vergara with payment in any form, or even obtain her permission before using pictures of her in their advertising.
Vergara initially posted a selfie on Instagram of herself getting a Venus Legacy massage in 2014. Vergara said in her complaint that, at the end of the day, she didn’t like the treatment and it didn’t give her the results she wanted. She further stated she would not use the service again and would never endorse it.
Despite these statements, Vergara’s selfie allegedly appeared on an “Extra” TV segment, along with other photos of Vergara that made it look as though she was endorsing the treatment Venus Legacy offers. These photos allegedly appeared on everything from Venus’s Facebook page to the Lavoro Laser website and Beauty Fix Medspa’s profile page on Twitter.
Even if Vergara had agreed to appear in an advertising campaign to promote Venus Legacy, she said it would have cost the company big bucks. According to the lawsuit, Vergara normally earns about $15 for each endorsement. Even with that compensation, Vergara said she always maintains strict approval when it comes to how her likeness is used. As a Hollywood actress, her likeness is her brand, so she has every right to protect it.
Venus Concepts, the parent company of Venus Legacy, said it has every intention of fighting this lawsuit to the bitter end. The company will stand by its “award-winning technology” and insists that it services thousands of satisfied customers all over the world, every day.
The company also said that it is looking forward to resolving the matter quickly, but attorneys for Vergara said the company already had multiple chances to resolve the lawsuit. Despite allegations that Americans have become too eager to sue each other, filing a lawsuit is still a large undertaking that is rarely considered lightly and most plaintiffs look for other ways to solve the dispute before resorting to the courts to solve it for them. Vergara’s attorneys said they reached out to Vegas Legacy multiple times, asking the company to stop running the ads, but the company allegedly refused.
The copyright laws as they pertain to social media can get kind of tricky. Although it might be tempting for companies to claim some of those images as public domain and put them to work for their business, the reality is that the person who took the picture usually owns the rights to it. For Venus to use other photos of Vergara in their advertising, without her permission, gives rise to a lawsuit alleging violation of copyright laws.
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