A few days ago the model wrote a letter to New York Magazine opening a debate about ownership of female body images

It is not the first time that images of some women are used without their knowledge causing psychological and personal damage to their person, whether they are public people, like the british model Emily Ratajkowski, or whether they are not famous women.

Emily Ratajkowski

Revenge porn on Telegram and deepfake

One of the social phenomena that has become a daily practice is revenge porn, which is the exchange and sale of ex partner’s photos and videos – taken for blackmail or extortion – but also of unsuspecting users and even children. The first famous case was in 2017 when the face of the actress Gal Gadot was swapped for a pornstar’s face. Since then the phenomenon has grown so much that in October 2019 there were over fourteen thousand and five hundred pornographic contents on the web.

Gal Gadot

The investigation conducted by Wired Italia at the beginning of 2020 found that the social phenomenon, in addition to causing devastating psychological consequences, led to the dismissal of some women from their jobs. If before the victims of the revenge porn were mainly famous celebrities, now seventy percent of cases are normal people of different nationalities and even minors.

The investigation revealed also that most pornographic materials are shared in the Russian chat, Telegram, wich has thousands of subscribers. Fortunately, there have been many reports and some famous people have supported victims such as the singer Fedez, the husband of the entrepreneur Chiara Ferragni, who turned to the Police hoping that his popularity could help the cause.

Fedez wrote on Twitter: “we are contacting the Police, thanks for the report guys

Today there are no security tools to defend women and the same criminal groups continue to disappear and to reappear despite Telegram canceling them. Recently, in the Russian chat, the use of an automatic program able to retouch images of women by undressing them is spreading: about six hundred eighty thousand women have already been virtually naked. This is called deepfake, the new frontier of revenge porn, that is when we can’t even believe what we see. Is there no way to stop these criminals once for all?

Amoral trademarks and sexist advertising

The clothing and accessories brand “HOOR” which in Estonian language indicates in an offensive and derogatory way the term prostitute. The brand of mosquito nets, Genius, is responsible for an advertisement in which a woman in underwear is stung by a mosquito exclaiming “mmmmh”. Ferrari recently has denounced the fashion stylist Philipp Plein for using a Ferrari car for promotional purposes with girls in bikini damaging the good name of its brand. These are just some examples of amoral brands in which women are used for the unique purpose of attracting consumers.

A green Ferrari model in the center of Philipp Plein photo

Ferrari, against the fashion stylist, stated that “the symbols of Ferrari in the images are associated with a lifestyle that does not conform to how the brand is perceived by the public, with girls performing sexually explicit gestures using the car as an accessory in a way that it is in itself bad taste”.

A few days ago Ferrari won the case against Philipp Plein for illegal use of the brand obtaining a compensation of three hundred thousand euros, while the examples mentioned before were rejected by the EUIPO (Ed., European Union Office for intellectual property) because, as the Article 14, letter a) of the Industrial Property Code states, they cannot be registered as a trademark: signs against to the law, public order or morality“. In the world of communication perhaps something is changing.

Emily Ratajkowski and the sexual harassment from the photographer who published a book without her consent

On September 14 2020 Emily Ratajkowski wrote a letter on the viral reproduction of her images to New York Magazine saying “I no longer have control over my image”. From the paparazzo who sued her asking for one hundred fifty thousand dollars for posting his photo on her Instagram account, to the artist Richard Prince who asked her for eighty thousand dollars for a painting in which was printed a Ratajkowski photo originally taken by a magazine: there are many of these kinds of stories that involved her.

The paparazzo photo

Emily Ratajkowski in front of Richard Prince work

One story among all shocked Emily Ratajkowski, a fact linked to the ignorance and violence of some men – if we can call them men – bossies and bullies. In fact, as  reported in New York Magazine, in 2012 the model’s agent organized a photo shoot with the photographer Jonathan Leder for an art magazine who, after the shoot, sexually harassed Emily Ratajkowski.

The model didn’t say to anyone about the sexual harassment and, of the hundreds of Jonathan Leder photos, only a handful appeared in the art magazine. A few years after Leder published a book with hundreds of photos taken during the set of 2012 without asking Ratajkowski’s consent.

Jonathan Leder with a model

I posted tweets explaining that this book was a violation and that he was abusing my image to make a profit without my consent. […] Inside I felt a strong pain”. Ratajkowski’s lawyer contacted the New York Magazine to explain that Jonathan Leder did not have the right to publish that book but the newspaper replied that the photographer provided a copy of the release signed by the ex model’s agent who always stated she never signed it.

My lawyer informed me that proceeding with the lawsuit, in addition to the costs, it would bear no fruit. Even if we won in court, I would simply get hold of the books and perhaps be able to ask for a rate of the profits”. ‘And by the way photos are already around. Internet is Internet’”.

* Credits to Tina Tyrell for cover image


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