Bar Refaeli Wins Damages for 2006 Ad Campaign by Suny Electronics

Tel Aviv District Court finds company owes supermodel NIS 400,000 compensation for using her image for purposes not explicitly covered in her contract.

Israeli supermodel Bar Refaeli was awarded NIS 400,000 in damages on Wednesday for the inappropriate use of her image by Suny Electronics, a company owned by Israeli tycoon Ilan Ben-Dov.

The Tel Aviv District Court also ordered Suny to pay Refaeli's legal costs of NIS 150,000.

Models' images, voices, bodies and names are their private property and no one may use them for commercial purposes without their agreement and without providing compensation, Judge Avi Zamir said in his ruling. Every model, even if they decide to expose themselves for some sort of advertisement... has a right that these private assets will not be used beyond what is agreed upon and not without their explicit consent.

Refaeli served as a celebrity presenter for Suny, the Israeli agent for Samsung cell phones, in 2006. A dispute erupted after a photo shoot, in which she claimed to have been filmed in immodest poses without her knowledge. The photos were used for a live Internet broadcast and theater ads, which were not specified in her contract. Four years ago, she filed a lawsuit against the company, demanding NIS 4.4 million for violation of contract, invasion of privacy and damage to her reputation.

Zamir said that the issues had erupted due to misunderstandings on the part of Suny, which should have sought to clarify in writing how it intended to use Refaeli's image. He ruled in favor of Refaeli, saying that the Internet broadcast and the use of her image in theater ads had not been explicitly included in the contract. But the judge awarded Refaeli a lower sum than she had originally demanded in her lawsuit, saying the original claim was excessive.

Rafaeli stated in court that models typically charge a separate fee for movie theater ads and that for use of her image in theater ads alone she would have asked for an additional $50,000-60,000.

Suny filed a counter-suit for NIS 2 million, accusing the supermodel of sabotaging its ad campaign and for defamation, in particular regarding her lawyer's contacting Samsung with a detailed list of allegations against Suny. The judge rejected Suny's counter-suit.