Copyright lawsuits against celebrities for uploading pictures of themselves, but taken by others, to their own social media accounts have grown increasingly during 2019. From Jennifer Lopez to Justin Bieber and Gigi Hadid, the list is extensive. Now, supermodel Bella Hadid is joining the list after being accused of “systemic piracy” of copyrighted photos.
According to a complaint filed in a federal court in California by Xposure Photo Agency Inc., the “model and businesswoman or someone acting on her behalf” has used five images owned by the agency to publish on her Instagram account on several dates between September 6, 2016 and June 17, 2018.
Xposure, which runs a licensing business of “photographs for magazines, newspapers and publishing clients worldwide,” says it alerted Hadid and her representatives of the infringement through a cease and desist letter, but despite this she published two more images without the corresponding licenses.
Given the “creative, distinctive and valuable” nature of the images and the “celebrity status” of Bella Hadid, as well as “the quality and visual appeal of the photos,” the company could earn revenue by licensing the images to media outlets, something that the model damaged by publishing the photos for her more than 21 million people. As they explain, the media is less likely to pay to publish the photos if they are already available on social media.
In this sense, Xposure considers that Hadid acted “intentionally and maliciously”, using the images in a “commercial nature”, since her Instagram account is a promotional tool.
With this in mind, the company seeks compensation for damages up to USD 150,000 per photo or “real damages and earnings attributable to the copyright violation,” whichever is greater.
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