Soldier sues over use of his likeness on book cover, T-shirt and action figure

By Cara Bailey | May 10, 2007

CHARLESTON - A West Virginia soldier has been transformed into an international action figure, T-shirt model and book cover personality.

CHARLESTON - A West Virginia soldier has been transformed into an international action figure, T-shirt model and book cover personality.

However, Erik Curran of Davis claims all of this was done without his permission and is now suing the companies who are using his likeness.

Curran filed a suit May 1 in Kanawha Circuit Court, against seven companies, including Amazon.com, St. Martin's Press and Cafepress.com.

The suit says in April 2007, Amazon.com began selling a novel "Killer Elite" published by St. Martin's Press. The cover displayed a photograph of Erik Curran that was provided by Getty Images.

The photograph shows a soldier with sunglasses and a baseball hat, carrying an automatic weapon. The book summary says it is the "inside story of American's most secret special operations team."

"St. Martin's Press and it joint venture partners, Getty Images, Inc. and Amazon.com have appropriated Curran's image, likeness and photograph without his consent to aid in selling and marketing the subject book," the suit says.

Curran said he also discovered his photograph was being used as the model for an action figure, "Naval Special Warfare Development Group 'Devgru' version 2.0," which is being sold by Hot Toys, also a defendant in the suit.

The suit also says Cafepress.com sells different T-shirts, which have the image, likeness and photograph of Mr. Curran printed on them, which was done without his consent.

Curran claims that each defendant, including Sideshow Inc., and DBA Sideshow Collectibles, created publicity that places him in a false light before the public, which is an invasion of his privacy.

He has not received any monetary compensation for the use of his image, likeness and photograph in the sale of the aforementioned products by the defendants, though each benefited, the suit says.

In the suit, filed by Charleston attorney Charles Love IV, Curran demands compensatory and punitive damages and court costs.

The case has been assigned to Judge Louis Bloom.

Kanawha Circuit Court case number 07-C-856

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