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Ericson v. Playgirl

Court of Appeals of California
140 Cal. Rptr. 921 (1977)


In order to boost his acting career, John Ericson (plaintiff) agreed to allow Playgirl, Inc. (Playgirl) (plaintiff) to use photographs of Ericson as the centerfold of Playgirl’s January 1974 issue. In April 1974, Ericson agreed to allow Playgirl to rerun the photographs in the annual Best of Playgirl publication, which had half the circulation of Playgirl magazine, on the condition that a photograph of Ericson take up one-quarter of the magazine’s cover. Playgirl included Ericson’s pictures in the Best of Playgirl publication, but Ericson’s picture did not appear on the cover due to an editorial mistake. Ericson sued Playgirl for damages based on the loss of publicity he would have received by having his photograph appear on the cover of the magazine. At trial, witnesses testified that the front cover of a magazine was not for sale and that it was impossible to quote an exact price for space on a front cover. Richard Cook, an advertising manager for TV Guide, testified that the value to an entertainer of appearing on the cover of a national magazine was “probably close to $50,000.” Cook also testified that the value for appearing on only one-quarter of a magazine cover would therefore only be $12,500. The trial court awarded Ericson damages of $12,500. Playgirl appealed.

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