Don't Say Cheese
A New York judge has ruled that an Orthodox man does not have the right to his own image:
A Manhattan judge has dismissed an Orthodox Jewish man's lawsuit, finding that a photo taken of him on a street and sold for hundreds of thousands of dollars is art — not commerce.
Emo Nussenzweig filed the suit on the grounds that his religion forbids photographs because they're graven images, according to his lawyer, Jay Goldberg.
"It puts him in a disgraceful light within his community," Goldberg said.
"It violates the tenets of the particular religious sect to which he belongs. He shouldn't be put in a position where people might think he sold out for a few bucks."
But Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Judith Gische ruled that the head shot showing Nussenzweig, with a white beard, a black hat and a black coat, is art — even though the photographer took it surreptitiously near Times Square in 2001 and then sold 10 prints of it at $20,000 to $30,000 each.
Apparently, there are pictures of this man hanging in homes all over the world - and he has no control over it. Some of the images were 3 feet by 4 feet large. The law dictates that photos cannot be taken without the subject's permission and used for commercial purposes, however, if they are deemed as art, then it is not prohibited by law. Of course, some might consider the hundreds of thousands of dollars the artist sold the photos for to be a commercial transaction, art or not. Some might also think that the subject should be entitled to a cut of the profits, or some sort of fee, for the use of his face.
I, for one, would be extremely uncomfortable with the knowledge that as long as they fall in the (subjective) category of art, photographs of an unwilling subject can be taken and sold, and that the images could end up anywhere.