A Dallas family has sued Australia’s Virgin Mobile phone company, claiming it caused their teenage daughter grief and humiliation by plastering her photo on billboards and Web site advertisements without consent.
The family of Alison Chang says Virgin Mobile grabbed the picture from Flickr, Yahoo Inc.’s popular photo-sharing Web site, and failed to credit by name the photographer who took the photo.
Chang’s photo was part of a Virgin Mobile Australia campaign called “Are You With Us Or What?” It features pictures downloaded from Flickr superimposed with the company’s ad slogans.
The picture of 16-year-old Chang flashing a peace sign was taken at an April church car wash by Alison’s youth counselor, who posted it that day on his Flickr page, according to Alison’s brother, Damon. In the ad, Virgin Mobile printed one of its campaign slogans, “Dump your pen friend,” over Alison’s picture.
The ad also says “Free text virgin to virgin” at the bottom.
How on earth can that be allowed to happen. We can raise questions regarding what photos a youth minister should post on to the web of their young people, but how do Virgin get away with in effect stealing the image and using it in a completely different way. What do you think, are there ways in which we can manage our use of the media to protect against this, but still interacting with young people through technology?