Volvo being sued by photographer and model over ad campaign copyright infringement

Jun 16, 2020

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

Volvo being sued by photographer and model over ad campaign copyright infringement

Jun 16, 2020

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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This is an interesting one. It’s not uncommon these days for companies to feel they can just take that which does not belong to them and then use it for their own commercial gain, particularly when it comes to appropriating images. But after one photographer claims car manufacturer, Volvo stole his images, he’s fighting back, as is the model shown in them.

Photographer Jack Schroeder worked with model Britni Sumida on a photo shoot in April 2019 which happened to include a Volvo S60. After posting the images to Instagram, it caught the attention of Volvo who asked if they could use them. Schroeder says he presented them with his terms and a request for compensation. He says it went ignored, but that Volvo used the images anyway.

According to The Post and Courier, the suit alleges that Volvo knew of the existence of the images, even reached out to Shroeder, who responded that he does not license his work for free and presented them with his terms. He says he never heard anything back and assumed Volvo had just decided to not use the images. So, he was surprised when he spotted them being used in a social media advertising campaign to promote the Volvo S60 sedan – the vehicle that happened to be in the photos.

Naturally, Schroeder was upset and when he complained to Volvo, the lawsuit says that they responded by sending an “aggressive and intimidating letter” to a production company Shroeder had worked with, threatening to sue them in return over a 20-second video which they say illegally displayed their trademarked logo.

The model is also suing Volvo, claiming that their use of the images has damaged her career as she’d been lined up to shoot a campaign with another vehicle manufacturer under an exclusivity clause in her contract that prevents her from working with competing brands.

The suit, a copy of which has been posted to PetaPixel, cites copyright infringement, unfair competition, and misappropriation of likeness. The pair are seeking to block Volvo from using the images and are unspecified actual and punitive damages.

[via The Post and Courier]

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John Aldred

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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10 responses to “Volvo being sued by photographer and model over ad campaign copyright infringement”

  1. Huge Dom Avatar
    Huge Dom

    Volvo, now owned by Geely.

  2. Adrian J Nyaoi Avatar
    Adrian J Nyaoi

    My next car wouldn’t be a volvo.

    1. MegaNickels Avatar
      MegaNickels

      I stick to Japanese made vehicles. U.S. vehicles are built to break with ludicrous repair bills and Europeans are obsessed with over engineering their vehicles making them harder and more expensive to work on.

  3. Robert Hicks Avatar
    Robert Hicks

    Wonder how many of the “should be glad for the exposure” or “they own the photo because they are in it” celebrity sycophants show up on this

  4. Michel Falardeau Avatar
    Michel Falardeau

    But the photographer published images with a Volvo in it without asking Volvo for permission. Volvo should sue the photographer indeed.

    1. Craig Alexander Lamont Avatar
      Craig Alexander Lamont

      Michel Falardeau Why would he need permission from Volvo?

      1. MegaNickels Avatar
        MegaNickels

        For real. So I can’t take photos of my Mazda I paid $20k for and post it without getting a DMCA just because the Mazda logo is on the product I bought? By that metric any one that has done gear reviews or shot any media that shows any logos from any brand should be getting sued into oblivion right now.

        1. Mauro Rodrigues Avatar
          Mauro Rodrigues

          it could be tricky:
          – did he or the model use the photos to promote their business (logo of volvo has to be visible)? social media is now a powerful medium to promote your business.
          – did they did the photoshoot just for them? photographer is just a guy who likes photography and model a person who likes to model.

          people are free to take pictures of almost whatever they want and publish on social media, now to use said photos to promote their business is a different story. although i’ve seen artists that use coca-cola or other stuff on digital art and paintings and sell them without asking permission, how does that work? Man this is complicated.

  5. Michel Falardeau Avatar
    Michel Falardeau

    … and as for the model, knowing that images with the Volvo would get published and could prevent her getting another contract, why pose for that photographer in the first place??

    1. Andre Goble Avatar
      Andre Goble

      The inclusion of a Volvo car in the images was incidental.
      Volvo was not a client of the photographer, and used the images without permission from either photographer or model.