TAMPA, FL (PR NEWSWIRE).-
Teenaged photographer Lara Jade Coton never expected one of her photos to turn up on the cover of a pornographic movie. She certainly never expected to see a picture of herself used in that fashion. But that is just what Lara Jade found, three years ago, when she discovered that an innocent self-portrait, taken when she was only 14 years old, was used without her permission as the cover of the sexually explicit movie, "Body Magic."
In the three years since that horrible discovery, Lara Jade has achieved international acclaim as a professional photographer. Her work has graced the covers of numerous fashion magazines, been licensed by major publishing houses and generated millions of views online. She is sponsored by leading industry players like Canon® and Bowens Lighting® and has worked throughout Europe and in the United States. By any measure, Lara Jade is a rising star in the world of photography.
Now a federal court in Tampa has awarded Lara Jade nearly $130,000 in damages for copyright infringement, misappropriation of her image and damages to her reputation. The court found that Lara Jade suffered personal and professional humiliation, harm to her career, and damage to her physical health. United States Magistrate Judge Thomas G. Wilson, in his order rendered September 16, 2010, described the conduct of pornographer Robert Burge and his company, TVX, as "morally wrong and tortious." By misappropriating her image and using it in connection with their adult film, Burge and TVX improperly suggested that Lara Jade was a participant in, or otherwise connected with, the pornographic entertainment industry. The harm suffered by Lara Jade was also compounded, according to Judge Wilson, by Burge's "offensive and belittling" treatment of her after the misuse of her photograph was discovered.
Lara Jade, now 21 years old, lives and works in London and New York. "Everything I wanted to accomplish through this legal action has now come to pass," said Lara Jade. "I defended my intellectual property rights in my work as well as my personal character and professional reputation." The case should signal to other artists that their copyrights will be protected and enforced, Lara Jade observed, if they are willing to fight the often long and sometimes frustrating legal battles required to hold the infringers accountable. "I'm glad that I fought for three years for what I knew was right," Lara Jade said, "and of course I am completely delighted with the court's decision in the matter."
Tampa attorney Richard A. Harrison, who represented Lara Jade, echoed her sentiments. "The court's decision is a complete vindication of Lara Jade's personal and professional reputations," he noted, as well as a strong message to those who help themselves to the creative work of others without permission or compensation. "Be prepared to get sued," he warned, "and be prepared to lose." "Copyright infringement," he observed further, "can be an expensive proposition."
Lara Jade Coton is a professional photographer and model. She took up the art of photography at the age of 14 and also works in photo manipulation and digital art. Her work can be seen at www.larajade.co.uk