Attorney Michael Fattorosi, who represents numerous adult performers and entities, is a staunch advocate of protecting those intellectual property rights.
"In mainstream or adult, a performer's two most marketable and valuable commodities are their image, followed closely by their trademark,” Fattorosi told XBIZ. "Without an executed model release a publisher has to seriously consider whether they can and or should commercially utilize a performer's image."
Fattorosi, who has represented Devinn Lane and Flower Tucci in their cybersquatting suits against a number of online adult companies, was recently tapped by Puerto Rican singing sensation Noelia in a claim over photos she said were misappropriated and then exploited for financial gain.
Noelia might not be a household name in the U.S., but the singer has a Gold album in the U.S. for selling 500,000 units and has had nine Latin Billboard Top 40 hits.
Noelia also was subject of a sex tape with a former boyfriend that made its rounds on the Internet two years ago. Noelia at the time said the leak of the tape was a terrible blow to her and was worried she would lose her fans, career and the love of her family.
She later married her business manager, not her former boyfriend, and the two hitched up at an unpublicized wedding held in secrecy at The Little White Wedding Chapel in Las Vegas, where only a wedding photographer was authorized to take photographs.
Two years later, those photo appeared in the Spanish-language magazine TVNotas, with headlines that read, “La Boda Secreta de Jorge Reynosa en Las Vegas.”
Noelia, as a result, is claiming foul and is suing for up to $30,000 per infringement. Fattorosi, in the suit, said the magazine printed six copyrighted photos.
"Part of Noelia's success is attributed to its status as a sex symbol and recognized as a result of the next misappropriation [of photographs], the plaintiffs were damaged reputation and loss of advertising value," the suit said.
Fattorosi said the decision to publish the photos was purely an economic one.
"In Noelia's situation, her image and the news of her marriage was intentionally used by TVNotas and [Miami-based parent company] Maya Publishing to increase sales without any compensation to her,” Fattorosi said.
The suit, filed at U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, seeks damages for copyright infringement and misappropriation of likeness.
Calls to Maya Publishing seeking comment were unreturned at post time.