Alhough it seemed at one point that the battle between American Apparel and Woody Allen – who was suing the retail giant for using his image on a billboard advertising campaign without his permission – might go on for years, it was just announced that both parties have settled. American Apparel has agreed to pay the legendary actor/director $5 million to settle the suit out of court after about a year of arguing.
After the agreement was reached Allen noted that – “it is of course possible that by going through the trial a jury might have awarded me more money, but this is not how I make my living and $5 million is enough to discourage American Apparel or anyone else from trying such a thing again.”
Allen’s lawyers maintained that the Los Angeles-based retailer never sought out Allen’s permission to run the billboards – which were up for about a week before they were removed at Allen’s request. The director sought $10 million in his violation of privacy suit which was filed in March 2008, while American Apparel maintained that the images used were meant as social commentary rather than an endorsement, and that censoring the image violated American Apparel’s right to free speech.
American Apparel’s chief executive officer Dov Charney wrote on the company’s blog that he thought the company had a good case, but that American Apparel insurance carrier, which controlled the defense, wanted to settle. “Naturally there is some relief of not having to go through a trial, but I also harbor a sense of remorse and sadness for not arguing an important issue regarding the First Amendment; particularly the ability of an individual or corporation to invoke the likeness of a public figure in a satirical and social statement.”