An Australian man with a "striking mullet haircut" is suing several media outlets for defamation over claims they made him look ridiculous and hideously ugly.
Ali Ziggi Mosslmani's hairstyle - long at the back and shaved at the front - became an online sensation after it was captured by a professional photographer at an 18th birthday party in Sydney last year.
The image was posted by the photographer on Facebook and quickly went viral, inspiring various memes and prompting tens of thousands of comments on social media.
The photo of his head was subsequently edited to appear as a figure on Mount Rushmore and as the head of a horse.
Mr Mosslmani launched an action in the district court against three media outlets that published stories about the phenomenon, saying The Daily Mail,
The court documents refer to various descriptions of his haircut as "controversial", "silly", "ridiculous" and "horrendous".
However, Judge Judith Gibson said in a preliminary judgment that most of the comments about the photograph were humorous and did not imply that he was "ugly".
"The plaintiff's striking mullet haircut has generated a great deal of interest on the internet, most of it humorous, and some of it in the form of clever observations, such as the 'Pythagoras' direction in one of the memes," the judge ruled.
"The plaintiff has not been compared to Frankenstein, or some other hideously ugly figure; his haircut has been criticised as ridiculous."
Referring to edited images that appeared in Sydney's Daily Telegraph, the judge said that "the closest any such picture gets to suggesting there is anything unattractive (as opposed to ridiculous) in the plaintiff's appearance is the photograph where a skunk has been added to the plaintiff's head".
"However, these Photoshopped images need to be viewed in context of the whole of the [article]... Viewed as a whole the matter complained of is commenting about his hairstyle being ridiculous, and this is not the same as saying that the plaintiff is ugly."
Referring to the strong interest in the photograph, the judge noted that one of the reports generated "11,415 comments, 10,000 likes and 1.7m views".
But she ruled: "[This] suggests that the hairstyle has its fans and opponents, but is not indicative of ugliness; to the contrary, 10,000 people pressed the 'like' button."
The judge said Mr Mosslmani's case was "overpleaded" and dismissed most of his imputations but accepted the imputation that "the plaintiff is a ridiculous person because he wears a controversial haircut".
The case is set to go before a jury and will return to court on November 17.