Today's Evil Beet Gossip

Former Model Sues Mad Men Over Using Her Image

mad men gita hall lawsuit

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:

don draper wtf cigarette gif


6 CommentsLeave a comment

  • Soo many factors: Who owns the image, if it’s the ad itself or face shots, if the contract with the company/photographer had an end date or if she signed all her rights away. I say if she’s suing now, she probably owns the images and has a good case, however things like this very rarely go to court and she’ll most likely end up with a nice sum of money/guest spot on the show. Source: IP/copyright Law :)

  • It all depends on the contract she signed with revlon and the photogrpaher on who owns the photographs and to what extent they are allowed to use them and her image. Which they will find out through discovery I’m sure. Also it would not be her estate v. lionsgate as she hasn’t died so she is in control as an individual for her own interests.

  • I can say, without a shadow of a doubt, that NONE of the billion dollars that Mad Men has generated has a single, solitary thing to do with her image flashing for a second in the opening credits. Am I the only one who would see that and think, “That’s pretty fucking cool!!”?

  • Don’t you sign your likeness away when you’re doing a modelling contract? Like, you get paid once but it’s the photographer that gets paid when the photograph is used again, not you? Also, they can just take any woman and style her like that photo. Seems pointlessly greedy to me.

    • – that depends on your contract. Sometimes you only get the images for a certain period of time, and once that expires you need to pay to use them again.

      If you want to re-create the image you also need to be careful it’s not the same, or too similar – it can be brought to court due to copyright law.