Pop star sued for copyright infringement after sharing photo

On Behalf of | May 24, 2019 | White Collar Crimes |

Every day, there must be at least a million people in the country who post photos of themselves on their social media feeds. But when can it turn into a civil violation to post your own image online?

When you didn’t take the picture or secure the rights to it.

Pop star Ariana Grande is the latest celebrity to face a copyright infringement lawsuit for posting a photo of herself that she didn’t take. She posted two photos to her Instagram account that show her leaving a building carrying a bag emblazoned with the word “Sweetener.” She used the pictures to promote her album of the same name before its release.

Now, she has been sued by a New York paparazzo who said he never gave her permission to use the images and that he owns them. The suit was filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

The lawsuit documents state that the Instagram post had more than 3 million “likes.” The photographer said he registered the pictures with the U.S. Copyright Office and wants either the profits the singer earned because of the post or $25,000 for each photo.

The lawsuit said that Grande infringed on the copyright of the photos by “reproducing and publicly displaying the Photographs on the Instagram Page” and that Grande “is not, and has never been, licensed or otherwise authorized to reproduce, publicly display, distribute and/or use the Photographs.”

Other celebrities, including Jennifer Lopez, Jessica Simpson, Khloe Kardashian and Gigi Hadad, all have been sued for posting their own paparazzi photos without obtaining permission. Under the law, the subject of a photo doees not have automatic rights to post it on social media.

Only a small percentage of New Yorkers need to worry about being photographed by the paparazzi, but this is a case of interest to watch about the growing worries over copyright infringement and social media. If you have any questions about something you want to post on social media — a song that you didn’t write, for example — a consultation with an attorney is worthwhile.

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