Teen Finds Her Flickr Image On Bus Stop Ad

Through the magic of the Internet, a photo of Texas teenager Alison Chang ended up on a bus stop advertising mobile phone service in Adelaide, Australia (inset). Virgin Mobile said that it was within their rights to use the original photo posted on Flickr without authorization.

An American family has sued Australia's Virgin Mobile phone company, claiming it caused their teenage daughter grief and humiliation by plastering her photo on billboards and Web site advertisements without consent.

The family of Alison Chang, who lives in Texas, says Virgin Mobile grabbed the picture from Flickr, Yahoo Inc.'s popular photo-sharing Web site, and failed to credit by name the photographer who took the photo.

Chang's photo was part of a Virgin Mobile Australia campaign called "Are You With Us Or What?" It features pictures downloaded from Flickr superimposed with the company's ad slogans.

The picture of 16-year-old Chang flashing a peace sign was taken at an April church car wash by Alison's youth counselor, Justin Ho-Wee Wong, who posted it that day on his Flickr page, according to Alison's brother, Damon.

The commercial use was discovered when Brenton Cleeland, a photographer in Australia, noticed a bus stop ad in Adelaide featuring Chang, with a line on the bottom of the ad saying the image had been taken from flickr.com/photos/chewywong.

In the ad, Virgin Mobile printed one of its campaign slogans, "Dump your pen friend," over Alison's picture.

The ad also says "Free text virgin to virgin" at the bottom.

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