CLEVELAND, Ohio - A newscaster with TV station WOIO in Cleveland, Ohio, has filed a lawsuit against Hustler Inc. and LFP Inc., claiming photographs published in the February 2006 issue of Hustler constitute copyright violation.
The suit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio.
Catherine Balsley, who uses the professional name Catherine Bosley, participated in a wet T-shirt contest in Florida in 2003 while on vacation with her husband Richard Brown, who is also a plaintiff in the suit.
During the contest, Balsley and several other participates stripped down, and video and photographs of the incident were later distributed on several websites. Balsley successfully sued photographers from the event for ownership of the photographs and the video and registered copyrights for them in 2004.
At the time, Balsley was a mid-day anchor for TV station WKBN in Youngstown, Ohio, located roughly 90 miles southeast of Cleveland. She later resigned from that position because of publicity surrounding the contest and the online publication of the photos and video. She began working for the Cleveland station in April 2005.
Hustler, in its monthly "Hot News Babe" feature, published a photograph from the contest in its February 2006 issue without Balsley's consent or knowledge, she claims in the suit.
In addition to the direct infringement, the defendants engaged in contributory infringement with their "Hot News Babe" promotion, the complaint states. By asking Hustler readers to nominate newscasters and provide pictures, Hustler Inc. and LFP Inc. are offering an incentive for engaging in infringing activities, the claim argues.
Bosley, who is now a mid-morning and weekend anchor with the Cleveland station, was not available for comment as of this posting. Larry Flynt, owner of Hustler Inc. and LFP Inc., was not immediately available for comment, said his publicist Kristine Coman.
Bosley and Brown have asked for punitive damages in the amount of $1 million, as well as $150,000 for each copyright infringement, $10,000 for each violation of Balsley's right to publicity and attorney's fees.