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Does copyright law protect photos taken by paparazzi?

On Behalf of | Apr 9, 2019 | Copyright Law

When most New York residents post pictures to social media, no legal issue arises. It makes sense that someone’s picture of him or herself would not belong to another party. However, model Gigi Hadid recently became the subject of a lawsuit alleging that she violated copyright law when she posted a picture of herself on her Instagram account that was taken by paparazzi.

As most people know, there are companies across the country that employ photographers to do nothing but follow around celebrities and take photographs of them for profit — the photographers are called paparazzi. One company in particular, which happens to be here in New York, alleges that Hadid failed to obtain the appropriate permission and license to post the photo. Even though it was taken down quickly, it undoubtedly received numerous views beforehand since the model has some 44 million followers.

The company, Xclusive-Lee, says that it owns photograph and Hadid’s use of it infringed on its copyright protections. This is not a new phenomenon. Many other celebrities, and Hadid in the past, have encountered legal challenges for using photographs of themselves on their social media accounts that could legally belong to someone else. Celebrities such as Jennifer Lopez, Kim Kardashian and Jessica Simpson have all been accused. Some of the claims settle out of court while others went through the court system.

With the advent of the internet, photographers began having more issues with others using their work without permission. Even though many of the photos in question are taken in public places, the companies that take them often take steps to protect them through copyright law. Those using the photos may be in the images, but that does not necessarily mean they may use them.