Kayla Kraft (no known relation to the cheese people) found herself on a Natural Light coaster with a fake handlebar mustache drinking a beer under the heading “Every Natty Has a Story.” She apparently didn’t like that story and just sued Anheuser-Busch, the makers of Natural Light beer, for copyright infringement and invasion of privacy.
According to the complaint, in 2013 Kraft’s friend Kathyrn Belasco snapped the mustachioed photo of her using Kraft’s phone. Kraft then posted the photo on Facebook. Three years later, Belasco assigned all of her rights to the photo to Kraft.
News reports say that the photo was submitted to Natural Light’s Facebook page as part of the “Natty Rewards” contest run in 2014 by Anheuser-Busch where contestants were asked to submit a photo of themselves “acting natural.” (Unknown whether drinking beer with a fake mustache was Ms. Kraft’s natural state.) Rules are here. The Rules provide that photos submitted are the original work of the entrant and do not infringe upon anyone’s copyright or publicity rights. The Rules also grant Anheuser-Busch a license to use the photo in any and all media for any purpose. Basically, the Rules say everything that’s typical for a UGC contest.
The Complaint doesn’t mention the contest, but does allege that the photo has been used as part of Natural Light’s “Every Natty Has a Story” campaign without Kraft’s or Belasco’s consent. Anheuser-Busch has not yet answered the Complaint.
Assuming the photo was submitted as part of the contest, this lawsuit raises a number of interesting issues.