Greek Man Sues Swedish Company over Turkish Yogurt Photo Use

Athanasios Varzanakos, a Greek man, is suing Swedish dairy company Lindahls for using his image on containers of Turkish-style yogurt. The $6.9m lawsuit alleges (in 40 pages, no less) that the image is misleading because the man has no connections whatsoever with Turkey.

According to BBC News, chief executive Anders Lindahl claims the photo was legally licensed from a stock library:

We bought it from a photo agency so we assumed that everything was in order

PDNPulse also sheds a little more light on the cultural aspect of this case:

The (hilarious) photograph doesn’t just have legal implications. The use of a Greek man’s likeness to promote a Turkish-style yoghurt is a cultural faux pas given the centuries-old conflict between the Greeks and Turks, which began when the Greeks gained their independence from the Ottoman Empire.

Despite the lawsuit, the photograph is currently still featured prominently on the Lindahls website. I can imagine why — this is publicity you can’t really pay for.

What do you think of this story? Should Varzanakos be awarded money for being portrayed as a Turkish man?

  • Name

    Ignoring the “yoghurt” and “cultural” puns that could be made, PDNPulse's quote is correct– except the conflict goes further back than that; it could be argued that the Trojan War was an early manifestation of this millennia-long animosity.

  • Name

    It's a bit like using Castro image to promote MacDonald… This is not a copyright problem, this is a cultural and worse a political big mistake.

  • joakimbergquist

    Atleast we had something to discuss today when we were making tzhatziki :)

  • enannansvensk

    hahaha jocke

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  • karlz

    It is what happens when you go using royalty free stock crap…. Regardless of what we think it is obvious that cultural differences should be respected and if there´s not a model release there could be an a bigger problem because he can sue with that ground too…while the advertising derived from this issue can be good if they loose money and the european court favors this man the money they bleed will not be good at all.

    Good publicity? PDN is seeing it in the perspective of photographers and not the public, the public think and react differently….

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  • Peter the great

    Shouldn't that be cacik???

  • Firelight3d

    While the conflict is a sensitive cultural issue, that aside, the question is, was there, or was there no release? No one seems to have all of the details on this except the lawyers. Even if the image was sold micro royalty free, unless the image was used for a restricted purpose as outlined by the purchase license, such as sex sites, ciggie advertising, etc. the man has little recourse.

    One version that I heard says that the image was sold as Rights Managed editorial with no release. Here, the moustached guy wins because you can't use images sold under an editorial license for advertising purposes.