Hair firm to pay model Sh240,000 for using her images without consent

Firm charged with using her images to promote human hair products on Instagram without her consent.

In Summary
  • In June 2022, she discovered that her images had been used to advertise Julie’s hair products on its Instagram page. This she said was done without her consent.
Milimani law courts.
Milimani law courts.
Image: FILE

A Kenyan company dealing with human hair wigs has been ordered to pay a commercial model Sh240,000 for using her images to promote its products on Instagram without her consent.

Justice Lawrence Mugambi in awarding Makena Nyambura faulted Julie Muiruri owner of Human Hair Center for treating the model as an object for promoting sales without considering her opinion regarding the product she was being associated with.

“That was utterly belittling her personality. She deserved respect,” said the Judge

Nyambura was once a model for New Level Collection Limited owned by Nancy Mwai.

She claims to have signed a contract with New Level Collection Limited where she offered her services as a clothes model for one year.

However, in June 2022, she discovered that her images had been used to advertise Julie’s hair products on its Instagram page. This she said was done without her consent.

Her images were used to promote the popular “Nyambura wig unit 18 inches”, “Naomi unit” and ‘mini bob 10 inches’.

Nyambura according to the court records attracted 38 likes, Naomi 31 likes and Mini Bob 31 likes as well on the Human Hair Centres IG feed.

She told the court that she protested to her former employer Nancy regarding the unauthorised use of her images to which Julie subsequently took down the photographs.

“Because of the images, people assumed that I was the company's Brand ambassador. That was never the case,” she said during the pendency of the case

But what followed was her contract of service being terminated.

Nancy Mwai who filed an affidavit in the case stated that she had appointed Julie as a consultant marketer of New Level Collection Limited to promote its sale of clothes through her digital platform page-Human Hair Centre.

She equally engaged Makena as a consultant for modelling services. She's known as Kimmy_moore on Instagram.

She claimed that under their agreement, Makena gave her company the rights to use her images, videos and reels to its liking and for the desired period even after the termination of the contract by either party.

Makena denied these claims saying the images were for the exclusive use of the shop's new level only. She would pay her a monthly fee of Sh30,000.

The judge in determining the case said Julie did not dispute the use of Makena's image to promote the product as alleged. She, however, took issue with claims by Makena that the images were used without her authority.

The judge in considering the contract Makena entered into with her former employer-New Level-said there is nowhere Julie’s company name featured.

“It is clear therefore the attempt to sneak a third party info benefitting from the images given by Makena without seeking her consent or approval was economically exploitative and taking advantage of her,” he said

“The contractual relationship between Makena and Shop new-level collections did not give the other party the freedom to bring a third party on board, “he added.

Mugambi said Makena was deserving of dignity and respect but this was denied when her images were used to advertise the human hair products by Julie without her consent.

"My considered opinion is that an award of sh 240,000 should adequately compensate her for the violation of her right to privacy and dignity arising from the unauthorised use of her image for promotional purposes,” he said.

The judge later suspended the execution of his decision for 30 days pending appeal.

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