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Ownership of 'hot dog girl' picture used by sports book in dispute

Las Vegas residents may recall seeing advertisements promoting Station Casinos' chain of sports books in 2009. The ad, which can be seen in the article linked below, showed a female model in a skimpy top and shorts holding a hot dog and a squeeze bottle of ketchup. The text offered readers specials on hot dogs, beer and shots of alcohol on Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays.

Now the man who took the photograph is saying that Station Casinos LLC did not have permission to use the photo. According to the photographer, he licensed the photo to an advertising company for a one-time use, not a continuing campaign. He has filed litigation against the company alleging copyright infraction, and demanding that Station Casinos stop using the photo and pay him profits realized by using it.

The lawsuit was filed in federal court in Florida, where the photographer lives, on Nov. 8. Attorneys for Station Casinos have asked the court to shift the venue to Nevada, or dismiss the suit entirely. The company claims it purchased the right to use the photo however it wants. One of the attorneys noted that the plaintiff waited about two years after he found out about that the "hot dog girl" photo was being used in Station Casinos ads before taking legal action. He suggested that the plaintiff was "sitting on his hands," though he stopped short of saying the claim's statute of limitations had expired.

Copyright issues related to media products like photographs, videos and music can be complex. Businesses that are unsure whether they have the legal right to use a picture may want to consult with an attorney experienced in business litigation.

Source: Vegas Inc, "Litigation heats up over Station Casinos 'hot dog girl' photo," Steve Green, Dec. 9, 2011

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