TAMPA (FOX 13) - Three women, all models, are suing a Tampa strip club, claiming the club used their pictures for advertising purposes, without purchasing - or even asking for permission to use - the photos, and placing their images next to depictions of lewd and explicit acts.
The suit filed in Tampa federal court accuses Gold Club Tampa, Inc. and Michael Tomkovich of pirating images "for purely self-serving commercial purposes."
Jessica Burciaga, Eva Pepaj and Leilani Dowding, whose images have appeared in magazines Maxim, and Playboy, as well as movies like James Franco's "Interior. Leather Bar.," say their pictures were used without payment or permission to advertise the strip club and job openings for exotic dancers.
The suit accuses the club of using the images next to lewd imagery, including pictures that "reflect sex acts performed at the strip club by the strip club's patrons and 'strippers.'"
An advertisement posted on Twitter by Tampa Gold Club (@TampaGoldClub) in August, 2013, contains a photo of Dowding with the text "BECOME A GOLD CLUB GIRL TODAY! Now Hiring Select Females For Entertainer and / or Promotional Modeling."
"The explicit images are, standing alone, unsettling and disturbing. But, when posted and presented in conjunction and in close proximity with the unauthorized use of Plaintiffs' images, they are offensive, insulting, humiliating, demeaning, and damaging to each Model's reputation, marketability and brand."
The suit goes on to call Gold Club and Tomkovich "unapologetic, chronic and habitual infringers" who "never sought consent or authority" to use the images for any purpose.
The suit claims the defendants were sent a cease and desist letter in December, but ignored it.
The women said damages owed to them for use of their photos by the club and Tomkovich total $255,000.