Model Carolyn Giles Sues Volvo And Ford Model Agency For Allegedly Making Her Appear Like An Escort

Carolyn Giles' 12-year modeling career has allowed her to "fulfill my lifelong dream of traveling around the world," she writes on her LinkedIn profile. But now, she says, it's turned into a nightmare. The 2012 Columbia University grad is suing Volvo, Hertz and the Ford Models agency for $23 million, reports the New York Daily News, for allegedly using her image dozens of times without her permission, including on a website that makes her appear like a Swedish escort.

Giles, 30, says she used the money from modeling towards her university tuition, and that Ford Models paid her a one-time use fee of $1,000 to promote Volvo's S40 model. But when an ex-boyfriend living in Argentina told her he thought he'd seen her photo in a Hertz ad, Giles used Google's reverse images to do some investigating.

She found that Hertz was indeed using her picture in ads, she told the Daily News, as was Volvo to advertise different car models in 30 countries. Her image even found its way into a report to the Securities and Exchange Commission, and onto a website called Fast Impressions, captioned "Rev Up Your Love Life," near a headline luring readers to, "Spend the night with a Swedish model of your choice!"

"It looks like something you'd see in the old yellow pages directories under escort services," Giles' attorney David Jaroslawicz told the Daily News. "It makes her look sleazy."

Ford Models and Hertz could not be immediately reached for comment. But a Volvo spokeswoman claimed that Giles signed a release that allowed her image to be used "in unlimited print and internet placements worldwide for an unlimited time."

Volvo further stated that Giles' image was not used in any Volvo ad in the U.S., and the website she takes particular issue with was simply using a play on words -- the "Swedish model" referred to cars, the spokeswoman said, not escorts.

"I can't take Julia Roberts' picture and advertise soap," Jaroslawicz said. "They started using her as if they owned her."

Giles isn't the only person to complain an image wound up in undesirable contexts. Fifteen-year-old Alison Chang wasn't too happy when a photo of her at a church-sponsored car wash ended up on a billboard in Australia, encouraging passerbys to dump their loser pen friends like Chang and get a cellphone.

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A New York couple, Brian Edwards and Tom Privitere, weren't pleased when their engagement photo was used by an anti-gay Virginia group in a campaign mailer. Nicola Kirkbride was a little startled when her face appeared on a children's sweater at British supermarket giant Tesco. And a mother was a little disturbed when she saw her child, photoshopped into a curious wizard's get-up, on Chinese Halloween costume packaging.

These cases usually involve the photo-sharing site Flickr, because many photographers set the licensing of their images in such a way that allows companies to use them. Giles, however, says the terms of her photo-shoot were clear, and it didn't include using her face to lure customers interested in "sexy Swedish models of all shapes and sizes."

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She doesnt look Swedish anyway.

August 19 2012 at 2:12 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

And that get up looks like she's advertizing more than cars!

August 15 2012 at 7:41 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

"easy" money ain't so easy eh?

August 15 2012 at 7:37 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

She probably thought that she was doing a shoot for Volvo. She was sitting in a car. The ad says that you can have the Swedish "Model" of your choice. Sounds to me like the old bate and switch. Even if she signed a contract there are usually morals clauses that will probably kick in here. It seems pretty clear that by placing her picture within the ad and calling the escorts "models" certainly implies that she is one of the girls. It's very hard to argue that it's an ad for the Volvo when all you get is a glimpse of the interior of the door. I wish her the best with this.

August 15 2012 at 7:06 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

She's a model. So I would assume she signed a release. Did she read it first? She probably agreed to let them use the photo anyway they wanted.

August 15 2012 at 6:52 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Yo, Wat^ dawg

which one is the model. they're all nasty.

August 15 2012 at 6:48 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

She doesn't look like a car to me. Maybe she's spending too much time with those other Ford models.

August 15 2012 at 6:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to summersanatarium's comment

She looks like she's too young to drink - like, oh, 12 years old. And that dress looks creepy on her.

August 15 2012 at 6:25 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to selfenchanted's comment

She not 12 dear, she's been modeling for 12 years.

August 15 2012 at 7:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down

Okay, you and others are just stupid. The ad is listed after the article and it does make her look like an escort. I don't know why they put the picture at the top. Maybe read the entire article next time.

August 15 2012 at 7:10 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

She don't look to pissed off in that picture you know.She's smiling there's open bottles of booze.
I dont see the big issue.

August 15 2012 at 6:05 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to JoseyWales's comment

The ad is at the bottom of the article. It's not the top picture.

August 15 2012 at 7:11 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

She was happy to get the paycheck and signed unlimited usage, She should not get a penny. When I read the ad for Swedish models I understood completely.

She sold her image for $1000, she got all the money she should get. She needed an agent or a lawyer BEFORE she signed. Read the entire contract next time.

August 15 2012 at 5:58 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Timothy's comment

That's no excuse for what they did with the picture. She thought it was an ad for Volvo and it's inserted into an ad for escorts without any reference to the car under the picture it leads you to believe that she is one of the escorts.

August 15 2012 at 7:15 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

A) The photographer always has the rights to his photos unless they were assigned to someone else. Even that assignment is very specific as to what can be done with the images unless all rights are passed on. The holder of those rights can (in the US) go back and file copyright protection.

B) If the images were used without permission then the people using them can be fined heavily for each time it appeared. There are photographers who make more money suing companies than they do actually taking photos.

C) I am guessing that companies like Ford Modeling and Volvo have ironclad contracts as to when and where the images may be used. This model needs to have an experienced attorney look at her contract with Ford. I doubt she has anything with Volvo or anyone else. It will be interesting to see where this all goes because not everything in the article is correct or complete.

August 15 2012 at 5:47 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Russ's comment

Russ is correct.

August 16 2012 at 1:24 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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