Understandably, if a picture is posted on the web without a copyright, it becomes public property. However, I find it highly inappropriate for a company to utilize the personal photo of a minor with sexually-indicative captions for monetary gain. It is my firm belief that Virgin Moblie (Australia) is in the wrong for having taken the photo of the young teenager Alison without any sort of authorization or parental consent.
What if the same caption was applied to the image and it was posted somewhere popularly viewed on the internet by an anonymous body who didn’t gain any monetary surpluses? I wouldn’t have the same reservations…although internet popularity becomes another object of value. I find that the best-case scenario would be if someone were to use the photo for a reason largely void of gain (ex: a collage) without slandering or humiliating the subject in a public place.
Were I Alison, I too would be pressing for monetary compensation. Is this approach ethical; does it pose a true solution to the problem? With the value placed in money, I’d say so: if Virgin Mobile (Australia) were fined a sizeable amount for their ignorant use of internet images (the ignorance being a failure to seek out undoubted permission to use said image), it would raise a warning to all other companies (etc.) that there are still lines to be crossed when dealing with items posted in public domains on the internet.