Airbnb Can’t Use Julia Child’s Image, Heirs Say

     SANTA BARBARA, Calif. (CN) – Julia Child’s legacy foundation sued Airbnb, claiming the home-sharing platform uses the famous culinary hero’s name and likeness despite being told not to do so.
     The dispute stems from Airbnb’s alleged use of Child’s imagery, name and likeness to market a house available for rent in Provence, France.
     The Julia Child Foundation, located in Santa Barbara, Calif., said Airbnb approached it in April requesting permission to use Child’s name in connection with an online promotion revolving around a house where Child once lived while sojourning in Provence, widely accepted as one of the culinary capitals of the world.
     The foundation says they expressly denied permission, consistent with Child’s own policy of refusing to allow her name or image be used to market or sell commercial products, particularly products such as pots, pans, stoves and food brands.
     “Notwithstanding being expressly denied permission to do so, Airbnb, in conjunction with its long-time public relations agency, defendant Dan Klores Communications, LLC engaged in a broad marketing and promotional campaign, prominently suing Julia Child’s name, indentify and persona in conjunction with an online contest to win a free night at the ‘Former Julia Child Home,'” according to a lawsuit the foundation filed Tuesday in Santa Barbara County Superior Court.
     The use of Child’s likeness and name extended to social media and was referenced during a promotional event held over the Memorial Day holiday, according to the complaint.
     The Julia Child Foundation is seeking a permanent injunction barring Airbnb from using Child’s likeness and image, an award of the revenues and profits received by defendants as a result of the unauthorized use of Child’s publicity rights, and punitive damages.
     Child, a native of Southern California, rose to prominence in the 1960s as a celebrity chef, who is recognized for bringing the art of French cooking to the broad American public. Her first book, “Mastering the Art of French Cooking,” was published in 1961 and was followed by a series of other publications.
     But it was her television program, “The French Chef,” which debuted in 1963, that displayed her distinctive voice, quirky personality and unbridled passion for cooking that rendered her a permanent part of America’s cultural zeitgeist.
     For periods throughout her life, Child and her husband, Paul, stayed in a cottage on a property located in Provence, France, according to the complaint. The couple never owned the cottage, which they called La Pitchoune, but they did keep kitchen tools and implements which Child used during their stays.
     However, contrary to the representations made by Airbnb, those implements were removed from the property after Child returned the keys to the property owners in 1992, the lawsuit states.
     Airbnb is an online rental service. It enables people to list rooms in their home, apartments, cottages or other domiciles and make them available for vacationers. It was founded in San Francisco in 2008 and currently boasts more than 1.5 million listings in 191 countries.
     Child died on Aug. 13, 2004, two days before her 92nd birthday.
     An email sent to the press department of Airbnb was not returned by press time Friday, nor was a phone call placed to Jeffrey Adams, attorney for the Julia Child Foundation.

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