Agency Files Copyright Lawsuit Against Jennifer Lopez
Jennifer Lopez is being sued, again, for copyright infringement. This time, the photo in question is of herself with fiancé Alex Rodriguez. E!News reported on October 7, 2019, that Splash News and Picture Agency claims in a lawsuit that when Lopez posted the photograph to her Instagram feed in 2017, she violated the agency’s copyright.
US Copyright Laws Protect Photographers
US copyright laws protect the rights of photographers by instilling immediate property rights in the pictures they take. When a photographer works for an employer, the employer often holds the copyright. At times, a photographer will assign, sell, or license some or all of the rights to pictures.
The copyright owner has control over the use and distribution of the pictures. In other words, no one may use the images without permission in the form of a license, contract, or additional agreement. The Copyright Society of the USA (CSUSA) explains that without your consent, no one can:
- Copy your pictures
- Distribute copies of your photographs
- Display your photos publicly
- Create derivative work from your pictures
Splash News Agency Claims Copyright Over Image
Splash News Agency claims that it is the holder of the copyright of the photograph in question. According to E!News, the court documents state, “Plaintiff never licensed the Photograph to defendant. Nevertheless, Lopez used it without authorization or permission from plaintiff to do so. Specifically, Lopez or someone acting on her behalf copied the Photograph and distributed it on Instagram, via the @jlo account, on a story posted November 7, 2017.”
Is Posting on Instagram Without Permission Fair Use of a Photograph?
The picture at the heart of the dispute shows Lopez holding hands with Alex Rodriguez while walking about in New York City. Is this fair use of a photograph? Courts consider several factors when considering if something is fair use. Factors include: the nature of the use – whether it is for commercial purposes; and the effect of the use on the value of the photograph – is it taking money away from the copyright holder?
In this instance, Splash News Agency claims that “Because of the subject’s celebrity status, and the Photograph’s quality and visual appeal, plaintiff (and the photographer it represents) stood to gain revenue from licensing the Photograph.”
The complaint also states, “The Instagram post made the Photograph immediately available to Lopez’s tens of millions of followers and others, consumers of entertainment news–and especially news and images of Lopez herself, as evidenced by their status as followers of her–who would otherwise be interested in viewing licensed versions of the Photograph in the magazines and newspapers that are plaintiff’s customers.”
Photographers Are Holding Celebrities Accountable for Copyright Infringement
This is not the only time Lopez has been sued for copyright infringement for posting photos on Instagram. Nor is she the only celebrity to face complaints such as this one. Lopez is one of the dozens of models, actors, and musicians being taken to court by photographers trying to enforce their copyrights. This time, Splash News Agency is asking for $150,000 in monetary damages and injunctive relief.
Contact Us If You Are A Photographer Seeking To Enforce Your Copyright.
We represent photographers across the globe in copyright infringement cases and welcome the opportunity to discuss your claim. Call the Liebowitz Law Firm, PLLC today at 800-778-1660.