The American actress, singer, and businesswoman, Jennifer Lopez, has been quite recently sued for $150,000 over the use of a photograph on her official Instagram account. Steve Sands, a New York City photographer, has filed a Copyright Infringement lawsuit against her for using and posting a close-up portrait of hers on social media without seeking his permission.
In the photograph, which was shared with Lopez’s even more than 119m followers on Instagram, she appears to be dressed as her ‘Harlee’ character from ‘Shades of Blue.’ She also captioned the post as ‘#Harlee.’
In the lawsuit filed, Sands has accused the actor-singer and her production company, Nuyorican Productions, for using the photograph, which was shared on 22nd June 2017 to promote the brand without seeking adequate permission or paying any compensation. The photograph has a total of 656,000 likes on Instagram.
The lawsuit has mentioned that neither did the defendants license the photograph from the plaintiff nor did they have any consent or permission of the plaintiff, corresponding to publishing the same on social media. It further added that Sands is entitled to statutory damages up to $150,000 per work infringed.
Lawyer Richard Liebowitz, who has filed the copyright infringement lawsuit in Manhattan federal court, believes that the incident is yet another instance of widely known personalities and celebrities using the photographs of photographers without seeking permission to brand themselves on social media platforms. He further said that the number of likes such a photograph receives on social media coupled with the total number of followers of a celebrity – is a crucial tool to commercialize the posts.
Moreover, this is not the first case where Lopez has been sued for copyright infringement by a photographer. In 2019, Splash News and Picture Agency had filed a federal copyright infringement lawsuit against Lopez for $150,000 over a photograph of the actor-singer holding hands with Alex Rodriguez in New York City. The photograph was shared by Lopez on her official Instagram account in 2017.
At that time, the paparazzi agency had stated that Lopez’s use of the photograph resulted in affecting the amount of money negatively, which the company could have made as the photograph was all valuable, distinctive, and creative. Because of her celebrity status and the quality and visual appeal of the photograph, the agency (plaintiff) wanted to gain a revenue stream from licensing the photograph. However, Lopez’s (defendant) unauthorized use led to damaging the already existing and future market for the original photograph.
The recent copyright infringement lawsuit has given rise to a flood of comments from the fans and followers expressing their immense support for Lopez. One person wrote, “Imagine being sued for posting a picture of YOURSELF.”