Paparazzi Sues Lisa Rinna For Copyright Infringement
Lisa Rinna is being sued for copyright infringement by Backgrid, USA (Backgrid). The company, which represents paparazzi, claims that Rinna infringed on its copyright when she posted on her personal Instagram account pictures of her and her daughters in various public places, which were taken by photographers who worked for the photo agency.
Allegedly, Rinna refused to pay Backgrid a fee after receiving a demand letter asking for compensation for using the photos. So, Backgrid filed a $1.2 million lawsuit against her.
The star, known for her role on Days of Our Lives and Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, recently spoke publicly about her disappointment in paparazzi photographers who she strongly feels are abusing the copyright act. Why?
Rinna told the Los Angeles Times that she thinks the paparazzi are trying to make up for revenue lost during the pandemic by (unfairly) taking advantage of celebrities with whom they have traditionally enjoyed a symbiotic relationship.
Backgrid Seeks $1.2 Million in Damages From Lisa Rinna for Posting Paparazzi Photos.
Backgrid filed its lawsuit in June 2021 in the US District Court for the Central District of California. The lawsuit came after Rinna posted “at least eight” photographs of herself and her daughters Delilah and Amelia Hamlin on her personal Instagram page.
Rinna thought nothing of it. After all, she is not the only celebrity to post paparazzi images on social media.
Backgrid, however, feels differently and wants damages from Rinna for what it calls “willfully infringing Backgrid’s copyrights.” Backgrid alleges that it has suffered substantial economic damages because of Rinna’s unauthorized use of the photographs.
Between Rinna and her daughters, they have close to 5 million social media followers. Backgrid claims that Rinna’s posting the paparazzi image confers monetary benefits on her that should belong to the photographer or photo agency.
What Does the Copyright Act Say?
Under federal law, copyright exists the moment a photographer takes a picture. The exclusive rights to the images taken by paparazzi belong to the paparazzi or a publication they might work for. This means that no one can use the photographs without permission or a license.
There are exceptions to this rule, but whether a particular situation falls into one tends to be determined on a case-by-case basis.
The law allows photographers to file copyright infringement claims when they think someone has violated federal law and used their pictures without permission.
When Celebrities Post Photos of Themselves Can it Violate Copyright?
It does not necessarily matter that the picture’s subject might be the person who uses it without permission. Posting a photograph that someone else took without their permission can be copyright infringement.
Lisa Rinna is certainly not the only celebrity who has been sued for posting pictures taken by the paparazzi but containing her own image. Posting paparazzi images without paying for them seems to be a constant source of conflict, which photographers claim jeopardizes their ability to earn a living.
Photographers continue to dutifully try enforcing their legal rights by taking matters to court. In recent years, photographers, agencies, and paparazzi sued Kim Kardashian, Katy Perry, Justin Bieber, Jennifer Lopez, and many other celebrities who have allegedly benefited from paparazzi photos of themselves-all posted without paying license fees or getting permission.
These copyright infringement lawsuits have yielded mixed results, but it is critical that photographers continue to wage a legal campaign to protect their rights and their work.
Rinna Claims She Had an Implied License
The implied license defense is based on the doctrine that one may sometimes correctly infer, based on the actions of or words of someone else, that they have permission to use the copyrighted images.
According to the LA Times, Rinna believed she had an implied license based on her good relationship with the paparazzi. Rinna’s hard work, she claims, confers monetary benefit on the photographers. She claims she has always cooperated with them, been nice, and enjoyed a “very symbiotic relationship” with the paparazzi.
It is exactly this very good relationship that led her to think that “it was understood that Ms. Rinna would be permitted to use and comment on these photographs of her and her family without facing a claim of ‘infringement.'”
The Beverly Hills star has expressed her disappointment loud and clear. Rinna told the Los Angeles Times that she would understand paying a nominal fee for posting paparazzi photos, but the money they asked for was just too much.
Backgrid alleges that Lisa Rinna did more than just post the paparazzi photos. She also “contributed to the reproduction, distribution and public display” when she encouraged her nearly three million Instagram followers to share them.
Time will tell if Rinna settles the claims or whether the court orders her to pay the $1.2 million Backgrid is seeking.
Paparazzi Photographers Call Liebowitz Law Firm, PLLC, to Protect Your Copyright
Liebowitz Law Firm, PLLC, is dedicated to ensuring paparazzi photographers and other creative artists receive maximum protection under copyright law. We represent photographers worldwide in copyright infringement lawsuits, enforcing licensing agreements, and seeking maximum damages when someone violates your rights.
We understand how hard you work at your craft and want to protect your rights to full compensation and damages. Call Liebowitz Law Firm, PLLC, today at 800-778-1660 to schedule a free copyright case evaluation.