Many photographers use photos of their models as their profile or cover pic on Facebook, both for personal accounts and their photography pages. Many also do the same with pictures they've taken of people in the street or of politicians and celebrities. Or they do the same with pictures of trees, landscapes etc, just as painters place their creations as their profile picture on their social media accounts. They usually change their profile and cover pictures regularly.
Recently a model who had not signed a model release claims that her photographer put her picture as his Facebook profile pic as an attempt at identity theft. The picture is posed and was taken with her verbal consent. Her picture was used for some time and the profile pictures album is full of other pictures of herself and of other persons, some of which are models while others are pedestrians in street photography. The photographer did not change his Facebook username to match hers or that of any other person. The jurisdiction is European. The same model has her model-released pictures used as profile pics by her other photographers on their Facebook profiles and she doesn't have a problem with that.
The model and the photographer knew each other before the photoshoots and had various personal issues between themselves as the purpose of them talking to each other wasn't only to do photoshoots. The photographer initially made the mistake of not collecting model releases from persons he knew personally. Later the photographer made a financial offer to the model to persuade her to sign a model release, but the model did not accept the offer, but she didn't say she wanted more money. Probably she refused the offer because of her personal issues with the photographer. She indicated in their communications that she doesn't like any pictures taken by him and the reason is just that they were taken by him, i.e. she doesn't want to see pictures of herself and remember they were taken by this photographer. She has no problem with almost identical pictures of her at her public appearances as an arts performer taken by other photographers, including some specific photographers who she says are more than just friends.
The particular picture used as the photographer's profile pic happens to be one of the best and most famous photographs produced by this photographer and is used not only on his personal social media profiles but also in all his business pages and as the most iconic picture of his portfolio. People who are aware of the photographer's work associate the photographer with this particular picture. It is as if the picture is now his trademark. The same picture has been provided by the photographer to magazines and other publications. The model has not objected to these other publications, but objects to the photographer using this picture as his profile pic on his personal Facebook account. However, the photographer uses his personal account to show his portfolio and regularly rotates his best creations on his profile and cover pictures. As this particular picture is his most famous and recognizable artwork, he uses it more time as his profile picture.
The model in the past has threatened to tell her current boyfriend to use physical violence against the photographer. The model later used her lawyer who sent legal threats to the photographer, but the photographer hold his ground and the lawyer later stopped sending threats. The model later indicated her willingness to make a deal with the photographer if the photographer agreed to let her choose which pictures she likes best and never use her picture as his Facebook profile pic (but it's ok for his portfolio and other uses, or for Facebook page).
What do you think about the social non-legal aspects of this case? What would you do with this model? And what thoughts do you have about the legal aspects? Do you think it's OK for a photographer to use pictures of his models as his Facebook profile pic?