Stars who got sued for sharing their own photos
Not once, but twice, actor Liam Hemsworth shared a photo of himself on the set of 'Isn't it Romantic?' The first time he did it in an Instagram story in July 2018. The second time was in June 2019, also on Instagram, while he invited fans to vote for him at the Teen Choice Awards. The photo wasn't a selfie, though. And soon enough Hemsworth received an invoice from Splash News and Picture Agency: $150,000.
This is a story about the copyright of images. It tends to belong to someone other than the star who's been photographed. Celebrities sometimes forget about that and naively post their images on social media. Ariana Grande is one of the stars who got into trouble for this.
In August 2018, Ariana Grande shared two photos of herself leaving a building and carrying a bag with the name of her album: 'Sweetener'. In May 2019, photographer Robert Barbera sued her for copyright infringement. He demanded $25,000 for each of the photos or the total profits that their publication had generated on social media. In the case of Instagram alone, Grande's post exceeded 3 million likes. She ended up withdrawing her Instagram post, but on Twitter it is still visible.
Richard Barbera spends a lot of with his lawyer. The photographer also sued Justin Bieber for sharing a photograph in October 2019. Bieber posted a photo of two paparazzi outside his house, one of them with the logo 'Drew' (his clothing line) printed on his camera. He wrote: "Even paparazzi know the deal." And indeed, they did. Just not in the way Justin Bieber intended it.
In March 2020, professional NBA photographer Steven Mitchell sued Lebron James for sharing a photo of his making on social media. He claimed $150,000 from James as compensation - a common figure for celebrities 'stealing' photos.
The case of Emily Ratajkoswki is curious, because she used a photo of herself in an Instagram story that expired after 24 hours. The problem is that the author, Robert O'Neil noticed it, and decided to sue the model. He claimed the photo to be worth $150,000.
In 2016, the singer shared a photo of herself and Orlando Bloom dressed as the Clintons at Kate Hudson's Halloween party. Three years later, Backgrid sued Katy Perry because the photo was their property. The agency claims that it had been trying to contact her since 2017, without success. How much did they charge? The usual: $150,000.
The queen of Instagram is always one step ahead of the rest. When she shared a photo by Saeed Bolde, she removed its color saturation so that it did not look like the original. Of course, the photographer recognized it anyway and sued the socialite. From that moment, in early 2020, Kim K advised her users that they could share all their photos whenever they wanted, as long as they were not agency photos.
Photographer Steve Sands charged Jennifer Lopez $160,000 in April 2020 for sharing a photo he had taken of the singer. The fee did not include the costs of the trial.
"Zendaya made this hat, so I'll wear it until I can't wear it anymore." With this message and a photo of the hat, Bella Hadid wanted to give a little publicity to Tommy Hilfiger in September 2019. However, the photo was made by Timur Mishiev, who did not hesitate to sue her.
Another Kardashian who challenged copyright law was Khloé. In 2017 she shared a photo of herself with her sister Kourtney in a restaurant in Miami. It turned out that the photo was taken by a photographer of Xposure Photos. The agency claimed $175,000 for the image. In the end, both parties agreed to dismiss the lawsuit, each assuming the costs of the process and, supposedly, with a coveted agreement for future collaborations.
And then there was also a second Hadid who got into trouble with a photographer. Gigi Hadid complained bitterly when Xclusive-Lee sued her in February 2019 for publishing a photo on Instagram without their permission. She won the trial but got sued again by the same agency for posting a photo of Zayn Malik.
In 2017, rapper 50 Cent was sued by Christopher Pasatieri after publishing his photo on Instagram without consent. The photographer claimed his copyright and he must have received something, because he never brought up the subject again.
She was not the first celebrity to get sued by an agency, but it did hurt her reputation significantly. In January 2018, Simpson shared an image of herself with the Bowery Hotel in New York in the background, and Picture Agency had her pay dearly for it.