The man’s photo was used without his consent
Rabat – A Moroccan man living in Valencia, Spain, has won a court case after appearing in a Ben Affleck movie without his consent. The unnamed man was alerted by his son that his photograph appeared in the movie “the accountant” featuring Ben Affleck. While many would enjoy such a cameo, his photo was used to depict a mafia character without his consent.
The Moroccan man’s photo appeared in the movie alongside members of a notorious American crime family. Under his photo the movie showed a label reading “suspected Gambino family associates.” The Moroccan man in question had faced a run-in with the law and his photo was published by the FBI in 2004 for an alleged computer fraud.
The producers of the 2016 action-thriller had used his 2004 FBI photo in their movie in which Ben Affleck played an autistic forensic accountant. The Moroccan man sued Warner Bros, the producer of the movie and demanded a share of the movie’s Spanish financial revenues.
He also sued the major Hollywood studio for €250,000, saying that the use of his photo had impacted his reputation and business.
The Spanish court saw the Moroccan claimant pitted against lawyers for Warner Bros, who argued that the man’s FBI photo was for a genuine FBI arrest warrant and that his photo only appeared in the movie for barely one second in the feature-length movie. The judge recognized that the man had indeed spent time in a Spanish prison and that his photo had become public.
The court in Valencia agreed that it was hard to determine whether the movie had impacted the Moroccan man’s business income. Yet, the court ruled that the movie had featured the man’s photo “without any kind of consent, be it tacit or explicit.” The court ultimately decided that labeling the man in the photo as a crime suspect without any prior agreement with the Moroccan claimant was a breach of his own image rights.
For the court, the Moroccan man suffered reputational damage. According to the Guardian, the judge stated in his ruling: “Even if we’re dealing with a work of cinematic fiction, the claimant is not a professional actor who would lose nothing by playing a criminal character.”
The judge considered the Moroccan man to be “a person beyond the world of art and thus someone very affected by how he is represented and how his image is used.” He ordered Warner Bros to pay the Moroccan man €25,000 for featuring his photo in their movie without his consent.
The judge was discernibly a cinema fan as he quoted Bette Davis’ autobiography to highlight the reputational damage that even actors suffer from playing villains. He emphasized that actors themselves often avoid playing criminal characters. He ruled that having a person “beyond the world of art” featured as a criminal without his consent was sufficient cause to award the sum.