If someone takes a picture of you, you are free to share it on your social media, right? Celebrities often find out the hard way that this is often not the case. Jennifer Lopez has joined the ranks of other high-profile celebrities, such as Gigi Hadid, Khloe Kardashian, 50 Cent, Jessica Simpson and Ariana Grande, sued for copyright infringement after sharing paparazzi photographs of themselves on their Instagram accounts.
Splash News, the owner of the photograph in question, filed a court case against Lopez after she posted a photograph of herself and her partner on her official Instagram account. The post was shared on her Instagram story, which makes it available to Lopez’s Instagram followers for 24 hours. Splash News, as the owner of the copyright in the photograph, argue that Jennifer Lopez needed their permission to publish the photo.
The paparazzi also argue that Lopez’s unauthorised use of this photograph has curbed the revenue they could have made from selling or licensing the photograph, had she not made it available to her large number of Instagram followers (over 100 million). Splash News says it lost an audience, who “would otherwise be interested in viewing licensed versions of the photograph in the magazines and newspapers that are plaintiff’s customers”. As a result, this photograph holds less value when being sold or licensed. Splash News are seeking $150,000 in damages to make up the difference, as well as an injunction to prevent Lopez using the photograph again.
Whilst this case is little more than another battle in the ongoing war between celebrities and the media, it helps to dispel the popular misconception that if you’re in a photograph, the photograph in some way belongs to you. The lesson from this case is the reminder to be wary of re-posting images found online, even if they are of yourself.