Verbal Agreement Between Photographer & Model Leads to $500K ‘Porn’ Lawsuit


In a lawsuit filed this Monday, Ohio-based model Nicole Forni is seeking half a million dollars in damages from Columbus photographer Joshua Resnick after he sent photographs from a shoot they collaborated on to at least three dozen pornographic-oriented web outlets.

Forni is accusing Resnick of breach of contract, fraudulent inducement and fraud, and is asking a judge to issue a temporary injunction against all of the defendants (read: the websites now in possession of the photographs) so they won’t be allowed to share or distribute the images any further.

According to a 25-page document she shared with the court, such distribution “will cause her to suffer irreparable harm,” presumably due to the nature of the content shared and the reputation of the sites it was shared with.

A screencap of Resnick's Shutterstock Portfolio

A screencap of Resnick’s Shutterstock Portfolio

Where this story repeats the errors of dozens before it, is in the lack of a written contract. According to the documents filed, Resnick and Forni entered a “trade for portfolio” agreement, in which the model is not financially compensated, but rather given the images to use for future modeling endeavors.

As part of the agreement, Forni claims that Resnick agreed to not use any of her images in “[an] adult-oriented, pornographic, or obscene manner.” Resnick, however, apparently started selling off the photographs of her to the plethora of adult websites, including Playboy Enterprises, almost immediately.

Forni found out about these sales when friends and family members (awkward) saw the photographs and notified her. As shared by, the lawsuit states, “The discovery by the plaintiff and her family of the use of her photos […] has caused [Forni] serious emotional distress and humiliation.”

It’s safe to say this is only the beginning of what will likely be a messy situation for both parties. And while we have no interest in getting further mixed up in that, it does provide unfortunate anecdotal backup for the fact that you should ALWAYS get a written contract. Pinky promises don’t hold up in court… and verbal agreements are only slightly better.

(via via Reddit)

Image credits: Gavel by Flickr user SalFalko

  • Eric Lefebvre

    ALWAYS …
    HAVE …
    A …

    I don’t take my camera out of the bag until the contracts and releases are signed. Anyone doing so is just BEGGING for trouble be they photographer, client or model.

  • superduckz

    Raise your hand… how many people went from this story to googling Nicole Forni?

  • David Liang

    Did she sign a model release?Since it’s a TFP shoot I’m wondering if one was signed, that could change things drastically in either direction.

  • OtterMatt

    Well, the images in question aren’t on the first page of results, that’s for sure, but you can see things like her modeling page. Her smile is almost freaky big for her face, but other than that, she seems like a nice and nice-looking person.

  • OtterMatt

    Only a few states will honor a verbal contract to begin with. One wonders, though, what was going through her mind to take her clothes off for a photo shoot without a contract of any sort. What would photos like that have gotten for her ASIDE from a porn gig?

  • Asgeirr Black

    Yea, very freaky smile. As a lot of others never tried smile before mirror or lacks selfcontrol.

    She does look rather okay, but I wouldnt say by looks that she is “nice-looking person”. Saw few of this types.. usually better to avoid.

  • bob cooley

    That was my first question too – even when I’m testing I get signed releases. But if there wasn’t this GWC’s TFP is going see him SOL… (annoying acronyms entirely intended…) :)

  • David Liang


  • BigEnso

    “Forni found out about these sales when friends and family members (awkward) saw the photographs and notified her.”

    I guess it would be awkward for the family members explaining what they were doing looking at porn sites. LOL

  • ShortsAndSandalsEnt

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  • Joe Pepersack

    If that is the case, and the release was written by anyone even remotely competent, she doesn’t have a leg to stand on unless the exception is included as a written amendment to the release. Even if it doesn’t have a clause that says “this agreement supercedes all other agreements” clause, a written contract almost always takes precedence over a verbal one.

    If you don’t want your naked photos on the internet, don’t take naked photos of yourself. And don’t bill yourself as a “professional nude model” if you don’t want to appear in the primary markets for photos of nude models.

    One more reason to stick with real professional models instead of the wannabe’s.

  • bob cooley

    I find it pretty odd that he was able to sell the images to sites without a 2257 release (a release specifically for the adult industry) – its pretty much a requirement for any adult site. Part of the story is missing here.