Virgin Mobile and Flickr photos

Wow. I’m pretty much the last to hear about this, but it’s truly hard to believe. Virgin Mobile has an advertising campaign out at the moment, which uses photos from Flickr (Creative Commons licensed), but doesn’t have model releases for the folks in the photos. Google it here.

Molly Holzschlag was one of the people depicted in the photos, in an arguably negative light. If I were her, I’d be pretty mad.

Truly amazing. This is certainly not editorial use – this is commercial use, which requires a model release. And depicting anyone in a negative light, or showing them endorsing a product, even in editorial uses, usually requires a model release also. The fact that someone on Flickr says a photo is ok for commercial use (via a CC license) really has no bearing on whether they have secured releases (both model and property as necessary). And while your average Joe might not realize this, the folks at an ad agency responsible for acquiring artwork should definitely know it.

Virgin, I’d think about shopping for a new ad agency if I were you…

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