WIZO, the Women’s Zionist Organization is an international charity that, among other services, builds and manages crèches and kindergartens so that young mothers can go out to work.
The organization used a photograph of an infant called Tal Korach in a brochure for fundraising purposes without her mother’s permission.
The photograph was taken in a crèche which the court noted was a private place with limited access and thus ruled that the child had a right to privacy. Photographs taken of Tal Korach without the legal guardian’s permission was thus an invasion of privacy.
Since the brochures were used, inter alia, for fund raising purposes, there was an issue of Unjust Enrichment.
Actually, WIZO requested permission, and the grandfather who collected the infant each day signed the forms. The mother argued that his responsibilities and authority extended to collecting the child, whereas she, as legal guardian, was the correct address for questions regarding use of the infant’s picture.
The ruling was NIS 15000 for invasion of privacy and NIS 5000 for legal costs. Claims for Unjust Enrichment were dismissed since the cover price of WIZO’s magazine was a fiction to give the magazine a sense of value and it was never sold. No other basis was provided that WIZO had made any money from this.
The mother sued for NIS 100,000, which is twice the statutory damages for invasion of privacy. I am pleased that the courts did not rule a sum of this magnitude. Not only did WIZO not intend to act without parental consent, but the picture was not degrading. A picture used on the internet website was taken down immediately at parent’s request. The organization was raising money for services provided to the subject of the photo and other children and is a non-profit organization.
T.A. 1919/10 Corach vs. WIZO the World Women’s Zionist Union, before Miriam Lifshitz Prives, Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court, 26 December 2013
Before reading the decision, I was in two minds about this. I am now convinced that the mother has a case. To some extent, where a child’s picture is used for illustrative purposes for fundraising, it indicates that the child and child’s family needs financial assistance and this could be seen as a stigma.
WIZO, is, however, a charitable organization that does good work. They asked for parent’s signature to use photos but something went wrong. It seems a shame that this went to court and that money collected from parents or from donors for crèche facilities will be used to pay legal fees and the damages in this case.
I perform as a magician from time to time, in a voluntary capacity for various hospitals and children’s charities. I remember being annoyed that a photo of my show was used in a fund-raising campaign, since it implied that money raised was used for funding such shows, whereas I was volunteering. I decided not to work for that particular organization again, but wouldn’t sue them.
I’d like to think that either the money awarded in this case will be donated back to WIZO or to another good cause. However, I can’t fault the mother if she puts it aside for the child’s benefit. Nor can I really fault her if she decides that it is the child’s benefit to participate in a family holiday in Disneyland.
Furthermore, it is important that organizations take note and obtain permission, but it would be a shame if this decision results in a load of get rich quick actions from parents who have until now enjoyed seeing their kids starring in newspapers, films, etc. we note that the action was filed years later, on grounds that since the infant was not yet 18, the case was still actionable.
Categories: unjust enrichment