At first this lawsuit sounds frivolous: a man is suing Lionsgate over the 2010 Russell Crowe film The Next Three Days because his image briefly appears in the film without his permission. But then when you find out that his picture was allegedly included on a computer screen with “Most Wanted Fugitive” figures like Osama Bin Laden, Bilal Ahmed‘s claims of “appropriation of name or likeness and publicity that places him in a false light” for being “depicted as a wanted fugitive along with other known or alleged terrorists or fugitives, including Osama Bin Laden”, well, it starts to make a bit more sense.
You can (briefly) see what he means in the trailer below, where, at approximately the 2:06 mark, a computer screen with the Most Wanted list is shown. While it’s too quickly cut into the trailer, the plaintiff alleges his image appears four times on the computer screen “1 hour 54 minutes and 52 seconds to 1 hour 56 minutes and 25 seconds into the Movie”.
Now, not knowing Mr. Ahmed I can’t possibly pick which image is of him or even if the image actually is him and not a terrorist look alike.
Doing some research into the matter I discovered that while there is a Portland-area terrorist named Ahmed Bilal, the former fugitive is currently serving time in prison for conspiracy to aid terrorism. Bilal Ahmed, however, is apparently a different man with a similar name and, if it actually is his image used by mistake, has a very good chance of winning the lawsuit. I know The Wrap article teases Ahmed about the lawsuit — particularly with its multiple comments about Ahmed being forced to change his hairstyle — but if his image was used without his position in the film I can understand his anger at the very least. After all, would you want to suffer the consequences of being depicted as a terrorist in a movie?
As compensation for “impairment to future earning capacity, damage to his reputation, mental anguish and suffering, humiliation, and embarrassment,” Ahmed is suing for $250,000 in damages and an extra $51,000 (an estimated .01 percent of the film’s gross), plus attorney costs. So perhaps he does have a case. Then again, if the picture isn’t even of the plaintiff this actually is a frivolous lawsuit and I take back all my sympathy.
Check out a brief glimpse of the scene in question below (around the 2:06 mark) in the trailer: