Mud Fest Poster Girl case

This week the KT reported on a woman who had sued the Boryeong Mud Festival organizers for her unauthorized appearance in promotional material.
The woman, surnamed Jeong, 33, attended the annual festival on three different occasions. In May 2013, she discovered that she appeared on the poster advertising that year's festival. The poster was used in a variety of places, including subway stations in Seoul and Boryeong city's Facebook page.
In the photo, she was pictured covered with mud and sitting on a man's shoulders.
The festival organizer also distributed the photo to the media as part of its press releases, and Jeong's image appeared on news websites and various blogs.
She won that case, but her claims against media companies that utilized the poster in good faith were thrown out:
In a related suit, a local court dismissed Jeong's demand for compensation from media companies that used the photo.
Jeong claimed the companies damaged her reputation, but the court said they were not responsible as they did not make the poster, rather they used the press releases that were distributed by the festival organizers. [Korea Times
I take that to mean there's no harm in sharing the photo, because a series of fortunate events brought me to it yesterday.

Reading this article, I was reminded of my own visits to Mud Fest many years ago. I came across a fantastic gallery on Flickr from one of the years I attended, 2008. No, sadly I didn't see myself in any of the photos, but I'm not exactly a real photogenic guy. The photographer must have had a pretty impressive camera though, because even though these photos are all seven years old now their high resolution looks better than 90% of the smartphone snaps coming out of there nowadays.

Anyway, Korean news channel JTBC reported on the case I mentioned above, and included a blurred version of the photo in their video report. Here's the still:

Source: JTBC
The woman on the left is identified in the report as the Korean woman, Ms. Jeong, who initiated the suit.

As I was browsing the Flickr gallery, guess what came up? That very photo. Here's the embedded version below:

Mud Fest 2008
Source: Hypnotica Studios

Personally, I don't see what the big deal is. This is hardly a compromising photo, especially compared to some of the other Mud Fest voyeurism photos out there. But I can see why she might be upset that the photo was used professionally and promotionally.

It's also an interesting case to me because it seems this was the largest and earliest version of the photo I could find (taken 2008:07:12 14:55:23 according to the image's EXIF info), which suggests that the Mud Fest organizers were not themselves the originators of the photo. According to Flickr, the photo is under Creative Commons allowing commercial reuse, so perhaps there's no foul here. But I wonder if the photographer is even aware of his work having been used in such a way. According to the KT article, Ms. Jeong only discovered its use in 2013, five years after it would have been taken. And she's Korean. It seems plausible that the original photographer, Shawn Perez from New Jersey according to his profile, might never have known about it being used as official promotional contents.

Actually, even though I found this photo in a pretty roundabout way, I wouldn't have had to work very hard to find it. It's right there on the festival's Wikipedia page.

All in all, an interesting case for considering the rights of a photographer, releasing his work under CC, of a woman perhaps only partially identifiable, and taken up by an official tourism-promotion group for what might be argued as financial gain for the organization (although in this case: The district court ruled against her, saying posting her picture was not for financial gain. [KT])

Korean portrait rights are an interesting topic, and  you can read more about that here, here, and here.

Now let's finish up with something light. Here are some of the photos I especially enjoyed from that Flickr gallery. Photos are original embeds, with captions added by me.

Mud Fest 2008
The "Regretting she came here with her Sunday afternoon language exchange partner"
The "M'lady"

Mud Fest 2008
The "Sex crime in 3... 2... 1..."
Mud Fest 2008
The "When the fun dies down, and you realize Mitch here thinks he has a 90% chance of scoring with you tonight, and one more beer will make you sort of OK with it"
Mud Fest 2008
The "God I feel so empty inside, what am I doing with my life?"
Mud Fest 2008
The "I bought this swimsuit in the 80s"
Mud Fest 2008
The "Shh... it will all be over soon..."
Mud Fest 2008
The "So close to nip slip, so very close..."
Mud Fest 2008
The "How much I enjoy Mud Fest now that I've been here damn near 10 years"

Hope you got a laugh out of that. Check out this great photographer's other work on Facebook and Flickr