In the ultimate David v Goliath battle, global giant Unilever, through its Nigerian arm Unilever Nigeria PLC, is being sued by a Nigerian toddler (through the toddler’s mother and father) for copyright infringement and breach of privacy. The claim relates to the alleged unauthorised use by Unilever of the toddler’s photograph and the alteration of the toddler’s name in a promotional competition run by the company.
The toddler’s family is claiming damages of 200 million Nigerian Naira (approximately £400,000). The claim relates to a photograph that the toddler’s mother posted on her own Instagram account in September 2017. This photograph was then entered into a competition run by Unilever to celebrate Independence Day known as ‘Pears Best Dressed’. This competition ran on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter between 30 September 2017 and 2 October 2017.
In addition to damages, the claim seeks a declaration from the Court that the toddler’s father is the lawful owner of the copyright in the photograph, and that this copyright was infringed by its use on social media without consent. In addition to the copyright elements of the claim, a declaration is sought that the use of the photograph by Unilever for commercial purposes was a breach of the toddler’s right to privacy and family life.
The uploading of photographs to social media and the entering of those photographs into competitions often involves agreeing to terms and conditions that allow certain uses to be made of those photographs. It will be interesting to see whether such terms are present in Nigeria and whether any of the actions of Unilever are in breach of those terms.in: Case Law, Companies, Copyright, EU/International, Legal News, News