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Life Always Sued Over Abortion Billboards

The mother of the girl who's face was briefly co-opted by the anti-choice movement in an attempt to shame black women has filed suit against the group that erected the billboards, claiming they broke the rules of the contract by using the photo of her daughter.


The lawsuit alleges the use of Fraser’s daughter's image was "defamatory, unauthorized and offensive." And the lawsuit called the billboard "racist."


Fraser had signed an agreement allowing her daughter’s pictures to be used, but the lawsuit claims its license prohibited the use of the image in a defamatory manner.

According to the New York Daily News, Anissa was four when Tricia took her and three sisters to a one-hour modeling shoot in 2009 in Manhattan. The billboard was taken down on Feb. 24 after many protests.

Marissa Gabrysch, a spokeswoman for Life Always, spoke to Fraser in February. "We certainly understand her concerns," Gabrysch said to the New York Daily News. "Out of respect for her, we've decided to no longer use the image going forward.”

They may not be using it going forward, but the damage has already been done, according to the mother, who fears it may end her daughter's career as a model.

According to Reuters:

he pictures were taken in May 2009. Fraser had responded to an advertisement seeking models for family photos, and she took all four of her daughters, the suit says. Since then, Anissa has begun to develop a professional modeling career, but the billboards have hurt those efforts, said Adam Pulver, an attorney for the plaintiff.

"She's already seen a drop in the calls that she's received and bookings," Pulver said. "People are wanting to stay away from her because of the controversy."

During the initial shoot, Fraser signed a contract with the photographer that expressly excluded from its coverage defamatory uses of any photos taken at the shoot.

ImageSource, a London-based company, made some of the photos available for purchase on its website or the website of its parent company, Getty Images, and at some point the defendants purchased a license for Heroic Media to use an image of Anissa in an advertising campaign.

When the defendants signed a contract with Getty, they agreed to specific terms and conditions, the lawsuit says.

"Licensees may not use the licensed images 'in connection with a subject that would be unflattering or unduly controversial to a reasonable person.' Additionally, the Getty agreement 'strictly prohibits' licensees from defamatory or otherwise unlawful uses -- whether directly or in context or juxtaposition with other material or subject matter,'" the suit says.

They used Anissa's image in the Florida and New York billboards in a defamatory manner and did so without the requisite disclaimer indicating that Anissa was a model and that her picture was being used for illustrative purposes only, Pulver said. Getty has revoked the license to use this particular picture, he added.

Does the billboard break the "defamatory" rules and are Life Always and Heroic Media in breach of contract? The girl's mother is seeking not only undisclosed damages, but "any fundraising" that was collected off of the image.  That no doubt has the potential to be quite a sum.


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