Copyright Infringement

Quite often, it is celebrities versus paparazzi in court. However, this time, some photo agencies are fighting back, and the latest star and celebrity sued for using a paparazzi photo, without the legal permission, happens to be none other than Jennifer Lopez. One of the leading paparazzi shops, Splash News and Picture Agency, has recently filed a lawsuit against Lopez in the US District Court for the Central District of California. The lawsuit accuses her of two claims of Copyright Infringement for posting a Splash picture of her holding hands with fiancé Alex Rodriguez while they were out for breakfast in New York in 2017 on her official Instagram account. The lawsuit is looking forward to seeking monetary damages worth $150,000 for each claim.

As per the lawsuit filed, Splash had never licensed that particular picture to Lopez, and she used it without any legal authorization or permission. According to the professionals and experts in this field, photographs clicked of celebrities like Lopez and Rodriguez are worth big dollars to photo agencies, who are always looking for opportunities to capture boldfaced names in public. They sell the rights for the use of such pictures to celebrity magazines, tabloids, and mainstream newspapers.

The lawsuit has claimed that the photograph is valuable, distinctive, and creative. Furthermore, it has also stated that Splash and its photographer had stood to gain revenue from licensing the photograph since it was visually appealing and of high-quality, and involved celebrity status. However, Lopez’s unauthorized use has harmed both the already existing and the future market for the original picture.

So, a picture of Jennifer Lopez and Alex Rodriguez, taken without their consent, which according to the First Amendment (Copyright Law), isn’t required, since she was out in public at that time – doesn’t belong to her and would have to seek permission in turn from the photo agency and pay them as well for posting the picture on her social media account. On her official Instagram account, Lopez has 102 million followers.

As per various Intellectual Property (IP) experts and specialists, the Copyright Law considers a photograph as an original work of authorship, just like a book, painting, or poetry. Moreover, the general rule also states that the person who clicks or takes a photograph owns the copyright.