McCann Watch: Maddy for hire - little legal protection to prevent this perversion

There's no let up in the McCann coverage which as Mediabeak reported last week continues to track the search for fact and the continued versions of the fiction. With nothing tangible coming from the continued police investigation the McCann's want to seize the initiative and challenge police to either charge or clear them from their 'arguido' suspect status. Given that Madeleine remains unfound and her disappearance unexplained, Kate and Gerry McCann want the Portuguese police to give them some respite from their pain by releasing them from the suspect status. All the police have to hang on to - beyond their maligned secrecy laws - are the McCanns themseleves as suspects and the seemingly enigmatic persona that is Robert Murat.

Meanwhile, this week's media coverage has moved on from speculation about a possible movie deal - which the McCanns strenusously deny - to the sick parasitic people that are peddling a 'Maddy Lookalike' for a reported £600 per outing.

As Sky News and other media report, the Juliet Adams Model Agency is offering a Madeleine lookalike for hire and also hopes that they can sell her in to any movie company that makes a film about Madeleine. The agency has defended its actions as have the parents of three year old Kelsey Lynn Kudla, who - according to The Sun - say they merely want to help. How altruistic of them. They as the agency have come under fire for their tasteless attempt to expoit the situation.

While distasteful it is not necessarily illegal. This begs the question what can Madeleine (in absentia) and or her parents do on her behalf to prevent others using her image and story for commercial gain? Ones image is a personal private right and the use of it or representation of it is covered by privacy laws and also intellectual property laws such as copyright or 'passing off' under trademark law. However these laws are phrased around invading someones privacy or misappropriating their original work or image but do not provide for a situation such as this where a lookalike child may be used as a 'stand in' for Madeleine McCann. Beyond a crime reconstruction or movie its difficult to envisage when such a 'stand in' would be used but if the stand in is being freely provided and then used to depict a story that is in the public domain, it is difficult to construct that as an invasion of privacy or misappropriation of image.

So, sick and opportunistic as it may seem its not illegal. Despite her parents protestations, it is ultimately Kelsey Lynn Kudla who is being exploited as much as the situation and some may say this is in itself another form of abuse of a three year old who can hardly consent to the context she is being used in.

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