Radio personality sues company to prevent posting of nude photos on Internet

Monday, November 2, 1998

Dr. Laura Schle...
Dr. Laura Schlessinger

Radio personality Dr. Laura Schlessinger goes to court today seeking a preliminary injunction that would prevent Internet Entertainment Group from posting nude photographs of her on the Internet.

Schlessinger sued the Seattle-based company — which describes itself as “the leading provider of 'adult' content Web sites on the Internet” — on Oct. 23, claiming copyright violations, invasion of privacy and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

Federal District Judge Dean Pregerson granted an emergency temporary injunction the same day the suit was filed, ordering IEG to remove the photos from one of its Web sites,

In Schlessinger v. Internet Entertainment Group, Inc., Schlessinger alleges that IEG has “misappropriated … her name , likeness and personality to their own commercial advantage.”

“Over the past 25 years, Plaintiff has become one of the most famous and widely admired talk show hosts in the radio industry,” her complaint states. For this reason, Schlessinger asserts her “name, likeness, image, persona and personality have acquired significant commercial value” to which she has a copyright interest.

However, Derek Newman, IEG's general counsel, says these comments help the company, because they show that the photos in question are newsworthy and of interest to the public.

The company, which gained notoriety after posting the infamous sex videotape “Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee: Hardcore and Uncensored,” contends that it obtained copyrights to the photos from Bill Balance, a former boyfriend of Schlessinger who took the pictures in the 1970s when the radio personality was in her late 20s.

Seth Warhavsky, president of IEG, stated in a news release: “How utterly ironic it is that Dr. Laura claims that the photos in question are phony, and also says that we cannot use them because she holds the copyright to the pictures. It is no more ironic than the fact that this woman has set herself up as a paradigm of morality when she has posed for very sexy photos taken by a lover while (she was) still married. We are confident that when all the legal aspects of this case are finished, we will prevail in our right to carry the photos and news stories about Dr. Laura.”

Newman said: “Her publicity and privacy claims should be defeated because this is a legitimate matter of public concern. The defenses to her claims all arise out of the First Amendment.”

Newman also said Schlessinger's “copyright claim is without merit because the party who owns the copyright to a photograph is the photographer.”

A call placed to Fred Fenster, one of Schlessinger's attorneys, was not returned.