Celebrity Plastic Surgery Expert Sued Over Cyndi Lauper Photo

Dr. Anthony Youn, a favorite of talk shows and magazines, is accused of violating copyright in a post entitled, "Cyndi Lauper -- Chemical Peel, Facelift?"
Cyndi Lauper

Celebrity photo agencies have been stepping up efforts of late to protect the rights they have over photographs snapped by the paparazzi.

But a new case is particularly provocative.

The lawsuit comes from the National Photo Group and targets Dr. Anthony Youn, a Beverly Hills surgeon who has appeared on the reality TV show Dr. 90210, The O'Reilly Factor, The Rachel Ray Show and in publications such as US Weekly.

A plastic surgeon's job is to lift and tuck, but in this lawsuit, Dr. Youn is accused of too much lifting and tucking. Specifically, a complaint filed in California federal court charges the celebrity plastic surgery expert with lifting a copyrighted photo of singer Cyndi Lauper and tucking away any authority to do so.

This isn't the first time that the National Photo Group has sued.

Last year, for instance, the company sued Viacom over a Demi Moore photo that appeared on VH-1's website that was allegedly misappropriated from TMZ, one of the company's clients.

The lawsuit against Dr. Youn marks the 19th lawsuit that the National Photo Group has brought in the past nine months.

This one might present an interesting argument over whether Dr. Youn's use of the Lauper photo constituted a "fair use," an exception to copyright laws in instances where, for example, a reporter uses copyrighted material for the purposes of making commentary.

In the lawsuit, Dr. Youn and his Youn Plastic Surgery company are accused of putting the Lauper photograph on a website in a post entitled, "Cyndi Lauper -- Chemical Peel, Facelift?"

Dr. Youn -- Copyright Peel, Fair Use?

He declined comment about the lawsuit.

The plaintiff says the use of the photo was out of bounds.

According to the complaint, "By way of the Infringement, Defendants increased traffic to the Website and, in turn, Defendants' advertising revenues, patient referrals, media inquiries, book sales, and health and beauty product sales.

The National Photo Group, represented by attorney Virginia Sanderson, is asking for statutory damages in the amount of $150,000 per infringement plus attorneys' fees and costs.

E-mail: eriq.gardner@thr.com; Twitter: @eriqgardner