April 11, 2014 | LexBlog Network

LexBlog Network interviews Doug Baldridge about David Ortiz selfie with President Obama

2 min

Venable partner Doug Baldridge was interviewed in an April 10, 2014 LexBlog Network article on the controversy surrounding David Ortiz’s selfie with President Barack Obama earlier this month at the White House. After Ortiz took the photo at a White House event honoring the Red Sox, the phone manufacturer retweeted it on Twitter since it was taken with one of their phones. While Ortiz has an endorsement deal with the company, he denies the photo was part of a marketing campaign. The White House was not pleased and insists the president’s image should not be used for commercial purposes.

According to Baldridge, it is difficult to capture someone’s intentions in social media which exposes a loophole in many state privacy statutes. “What did the president consent to there? The president consented to having his photo taken with David Ortiz. He didn’t consent to using his likeness to market [the company's] products. So you get into a blur over what was the scope of the consent. Is it the consent to the photo being take itself or was it the consent to it being used in a commercial way?” said Baldridge. He pointed to a push for a federal right to publicity statute to help close state level loopholes.

While a lawsuit may establish that a personality did not consent to having their likeness used, social media and the internet means the image is likely to stick around. “It does live forever … and that is one of the major problems [of social media],” said Baldridge. “You’re almost left with a celebrity being put in a position of doing nothing about it. Once you file the lawsuit and make more of an issue of it, it gets proliferated more and more, and it just never goes away. It’s very difficult to stop these things. Getting into one of the [social media] organizations and trying to stop this is almost impossible because they don’t sponsor the material. It’s an endless cycle, and sometimes the only way to deal with it is to just flat ignore it.”