If you were one of the people fantasizing about a nasty courtroom battle between the fashion outlet American Apparel and Woody Allen, get ready to be disappointed. It was announced on Monday, that Allen,"...had accepted a $5 million settlement in his lawsuit against the manufacturer, American Apparel, and Dov Charney, its founder and chief executive." Now if you remember, Allen had launched a suit against AA for at least $10 million after the clothier used an image from Allen's film, Annie Hall, of the director dressed as a Rabbi. When Allen found out about the ad, plenty of name-calling ensued, and AA's lawyers were ready and willing to take their fight to court in hopes of proving that Allen's image wasn't even worth that much thanks to his scandalous past.
Most of Allen's fans saw the incident as a clear-cut case of copyright infringement, but Charney and AA had a different take on their use of the image. In discussions with AA's PR representative, I confirmed that AA had intended the billboard to be a comment on the public perception of AA as a brand; or to put it in movie terms, AA was the Alvy Singer to the media's Grammie Hall. Sure, it's a good use of a movie reference, and I do see their point. But something isn't clicking when on one hand Charney says, "My intention was to call upon people to see beyond media and lawsuit-inspired scandal, and to consider people for their true value and for their contribution to society" and at the same time he was mounting a legal defense that seemed to be the opposite of his intentions (you can read Charney's full statement about the case on their website).
But now that the case is over, it really doesn't really matter what AA's intentions were; Allen gets to avoid being raked over the coals, and Charney has lost out on the chance to argue a First Amendment case in court. Personally, I still can't decide if the whole mess was an misguided attempt at publicity, or just the latest example of the scandals that seem to follow AA and founder Dov Charney wherever he goes; and instead of fighting it out in court, I guess it was just a hell of a lot easier to write a check.