After finding an advertisement of longtime Ralph Lauren model Filippa Hamilton-Palmstierna with her entire body whittled down to an almost emaciated state, a blogger at BoingBoing.com put the picture online with a caption that read: "Dude, her head's bigger than her pelvis," as reported by The Huffington Post.
After dozens of comments flooded in criticizing the ad and Ralph Lauren, The Huffington Post reports that the legal team at Ralph Lauren accused Boing Boing of copyright infringement for reprinting the ad.
Boing Boing editors fired back saying Ralph Lauren's accusations were bogus and that their actions were legal and fell under the umbrella of "classic fair use: a reproduction 'for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting.'"
Cory Doctorow, Boing Boing's co-editor told StyleList that getting yelled at by the companies the site criticizes is something Boing Boing editors are used to. "We have indeed gotten spurious legal threats before and have always used mockery as our tool of choice for dealing with them," he says.
Part of the "mockery" they are using with this Ralph Lauren fiasco includes publishing Lauren's letter to Boing Boing, as well as keeping the original post up.
Apparently, all of this mess stems from a picture that might not even be a legitimate image finished by the hands of Ralph Lauren's advertising team. Boing Boing editors actually snatched the image off of a blog called Photoshop Disasters, which follows all of the gross misuses of the notorious retouching tool.
However, Photoshop Disasters acquires their images through anonymous sources who randomly send them in, which doesn't bode too well for Boing Boing's case that Ralph Lauren was somehow responsible for the overly altered image.
Yet the editors at Photoshop Disasters tell StyleList that their anonymous source claims to have taken the photograph of the ad at a "trendy" mall in Tokyo, and believe it's a picture is of an outdoor poster.
While everyone knows that many designers abuse Photoshop, it would be very surprising if the forces at Ralph Lauren took an ad to that far of an unnatural-looking extreme, especially when all of their other ads featuring Hamilton-Palmstierna look respectfully in proportion.
But what do you think? Should Boing Boing have posted the image without authenticating it first? Should Ralph Lauren have taken the legal action they did? Leave a comment below.
To find out more about the controversy over computer enhanced images -- including proposed laws to clearly label retouched pictures in both the U.K. and France -- keep reading.