Mad Men is coming back and with it, a lawsuit from a former model. 79 year-old Gita Hall May filed a lawsuit against Lionsgate Entertainment charging that her image (taken from a Richard Avedon photograph for Revlon sometime in the early 1960’s) featured in the Mad Men opening title sequence is without her consent, and that’s totally not cool with her. Wouldn’t this be more about the Avedon estate vs. Lionsgate than her vs. Lionsgate? Yes, it’s her face, but didn’t she sign that away to Avedon and Revlon? To anyone with a background in copyright I’d love your input on this.
The title sequence won an Emmy in 2008 for Outstanding Main Title Design. I had no idea that was a category and I think that’s awesome. So why is she only bringing this up now? Well apparently she didn’t have cable and didn’t even see the show until 2012 when it became available on DVD or whatever she watched it on.
Ms. May, known as Ms. Hall in her heyday, says that she only gave permission for her face to be used for the Revlon campaign Avedon shot and did not,
allow, forty years later, her image to be cropped from the photo, in secret, and inserted as a key element in the title sequence of a cable television series, without her consent and for commercial purposes.” […] The suit estimates Mad Men has earned over $1 billion to date, and insists that the use of this “iconic female beauty of the age” which “evokes recollections of this now distant time” is valuable because it “perfectly personifies the period.” (via Hollywood Reporter.)
I have a feeling that Lionsgate’s response is going to be something like this: