LOS ANGELES—Adult performer and apparent Tiger Woods paramour Joslyn James held a press conference Wednesday with noted attorney Gloria Allred by her side, at which she complained about the unauthorized use of her image on golf balls being produced and sold by a Canadian company.
“As a victim of violence,” she said, “it bothered me to think that someone would be standing with a dangerous club in their hand and hitting a ball with my face on it.” One of those people, of course, might be Tiger’s wife, Elin Nordegren, who pretty much sparked the conflagration that has engulfed Woods’ life and career after taking a golf club to him on the night of his “accident” in the SUV. (Not that he didn’t have it coming!)
As the truth about Woods’ many infidelities has unfolded over the past several months, however, it seems as if there are an increasing number of people looking to profit from the story, including, of course, the porn studios rushing Tiger Woods-themed flicks into production. Those sorts of opportunistic enterprises are to be expected, though; what the Canadian company, Canadian Novelty, is doing is a whole other matter.
In California, at least, it happens to be illegal to use someone’s likeness for commercial purposes without their permission. So while the focus of the Wednesday press conference seemed to be on the violence-against-women implications of plastering female faces on golf balls, Allred has got to be slavering at the prospect of a copyright infringement claim not only on behalf of James—whose real name is Veronica Siwik-Daniels—but also the other alleged mistresses she represents.
We asked AVN legal columnist Clyde DeWitt if we were correct in our assumptions regarding the law, and he kindly forwarded us the applicable California statute.
“The relevant statute, assuming they are selling these golf balls in California, is California Civil Code § 3344,” he said. “The right involved is that any individual has a right to prohibit the commercial exploitation of his/her likeness. This obviously does not apply to news coverage.”
The relevant section is as follows:
“(a)Any person who knowingly uses another's name, voice, signature, photograph, or likeness, in any manner, on or in products, merchandise, or goods, or for purposes of advertising or selling, or soliciting purchases of, products, merchandise, goods or services, without such person's prior consent, or, in the case of a minor, the prior consent of his parent or legal guardian, shall be liable for any damages sustained by the person or persons injured as a result thereof. In addition, in any action brought under this section, the person who violated the section shall be liable to the injured party or parties in an amount equal to the greater of seven hundred fifty dollars ($750) or the actual damages suffered by him or her as a result of the unauthorized use, and any profits from the unauthorized use that are attributable to the use and are not taken into account in computing the actual damages. In establishing such profits, the injured party or parties are required to present proof only of the gross revenue attributable to such use, and the person who violated this section is required to prove his or her deductible expenses. Punitive damages may also be awarded to the injured party or parties. The prevailing party in any action under this section shall also be entitled to attorney's fees and costs.”
According to the Vancouver Sun, Mike Caldwell, the man behind the balls, “says he’s made about $45,000 since he launched his venture last weekend. The Tail of the Tiger golf balls, The Mistress Collection, sells for $44.95 per dozen.”