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Leeds hairdresser wins copyright battle over online store selling t-shirts with her image on them


By Gillian West | Social media manager

August 15, 2015 | 3 min read

A hair stylist has won a copyright battle after discovering a clothing company was selling t-shirts with her face on them without her consent.

28-year-old Melanie Armsden from Leeds only found out after a customer sent her a photo of the t-shirt she'd seen online commenting on the resemblance to her.

"[The customer] said it reminded her of me and I was looking at it thinking, that is me," said Armsden.

"It took me totally off guard. Quite a lot of people have said I should take it as a compliment, but when I found out it was quite shocking. The idea that I could have been walking through town and seen someone wearing a t-shirt with my face on is pretty weird."

It is thought the image was taken from the internet and printed without Armsden being contacted. Following the discovery, Armsden contacted the company selling the t-shirts, Shop Direct, and found out they had been made by a manufacturer in India.

After seeking legal advice, Armsden threatened to sure the company arguing the t-shirts breached her copyright. The matter was settled out of court and she she has since been given 267 of the remaining garments which she is now selling off for charity.

"I had all the evidence that I was the copyright owner and that they had produced the t-shirt without my authorisation," she added.

Sales of the £10 t-shirt will now benefit the Little Princess Trust which provides real-hair wigs to children who have lost their hair as a result of cancer or genetic conditions.

Of the decision to keep selling them, Armsden said: "After the case was settled I decided that rather than the [t-shirts] just being destroyed, which is usually the case, I could put them to much better use."

Shop Direct said: "We bought the items in good faith and as soon as the issue was brought to our attention we immediately removed them from sale. The remaining stock was returned and it's great news that she is using them to raise money for charity."

In January high street retailer Topshop found itself in a similar battle with Rihanna who won a landmark legal battle over the stores unauthorised use of her image on a t-shirt.

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