Savely v. MTV Music TV, Viacom
United States District Court for the District of New Jersey
2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 77621 (2011)
Michael Savely (plaintiff) was a drummer who performed in New York City subways. Savely generated a large portion of his income by giving drumming lessons to children. Representatives of MTV Music TV, Viacom (MTV) (defendant) approached Savely in the subway and asked if they could film him drumming for a film being made by MTV. After reviewing the MTV contract, Savely indicated that he did not consent to being filmed. Savely was concerned that the footage would damage his reputation because of the film’s connection to certain artists and institutions. Savely later learned that MTV had filmed him playing and had used the footage in a program about rapper Nicki Minaj. Savely sued MTV for invasion of privacy by false light, among other claims. Savely alleged that the quality of the images and sounds in the film clip reflected poorly on Savely’s talent and that he was portrayed in a false and disparaging light because Nicki Minaj dressed provocatively and used profanity, and her lifestyle was contrary to Savely’s lifestyle and that of his students and their parents. Savely claimed that after the program aired, he lost students and T-shirt sales and was criticized by fans and supporters. MTV moved to dismiss the false-light claim, arguing that the footage was not distorted and Savely’s images were not linked to Minaj or the film’s themes.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Wigenton, J.)
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