[Slate] Slate.com has an advice column called “Dear Prudence”. Today’s dilemma will likely be something in which BlindGossip readers will be interested:
During high school I dated a boy who is now a successful recording artist. Things were going well between us until his career picked up toward the end of our senior year. He transformed from a level-headed, compassionate guy into someone shallow and self-absorbed. When he broke off our relationship, his words were, “I can’t see you fitting into this kind of lifestyle and the crowd I’m now going to be rolling with.” I was pregnant at the time (I never told him) but ended up miscarrying. The breakup and miscarriage were so emotionally devastating that I couldn’t continue my schooling and had to put off college. Years later, I’ve been contacted by his representatives, as I’m in possession of a number of nude and compromising photographs of him, and they want to ensure these pictures never see the light of day. The photographs are on an old computer in my mother’s basement that I’d almost forgotten about. All the old hurt, pain, and resentment have come rushing back. The fact that he couldn’t even call me himself and left it to “his people” makes me so angry that I’m strongly considering selling these photos to a tabloid—I could use the money. Under normal circumstances it would be a terrible thing to do, but maybe I deserve this vindication. Would I be justified?
—A Woman Scorned
I hope you’re forever grateful to your mother that she didn’t give your old computer to the Salvation Army, but that doesn’t mean getting revenge will necessarily be your salvation. It’s n*de photo week at this column, and I give you credit for a uniquely juicy variation. Your situation is both a legal and moral dilemma, so for advice on the former I turned to attorney Carolyn E. Wright, whose practice is devoted to photographers. She laid out a number of issues you need to clarify. One is who owns the photos. If you snapped the shutter, you’re in luck, because then you have the copyright. But that doesn’t allow you to reveal these revealing images to whomever you like. If the photos were taken with the expectation that they were only for personal use, then you have to deal with the matter of his privacy rights. It’s possible your ex is such a big name that a tabloid would be willing to buy the photos and indemnify you. But “his people” might also be willing to make a deal to purchase the copyright from you. Wright says, however, that you have to be careful not to extort them: “Pay me a lot of money, or these are the cover of next week’s National Enquirer.” Hire an attorney conversant in privacy law to handle this on your behalf. You were treated terribly by a jerk, but millions of young women have been dumped by arrogant high-school boyfriends. Yes, the miscarriage added to your pain, but it also has meant that you didn’t become a teenage mother whose child had an emotional moron for a father. You need to start looking at your life differently. In high school you dated someone who got famous and broke up with you. By now that should be a couple of anecdotes, not a life crusher. I hope that the delay in your education was only temporary. As for the moral issue of the photos, try to negotiate a fair payment from Mr. “You’re So Vain” for your property. You’ll feel better about yourself for not turning your high-school romp into sleaze. But if I see news that a recording artist is embarrassed over the release of youthful “compromising pictures,” I’ll hope you’re laughing all the way to the bank.