Most people who post pictures of themselves on social media don’t think twice about copyright infringement or privacy lawsuits. For regular people, the usual concerns before posting a picture on social media are lighting, angles and coming up with a charming caption.
However, earlier this year, the ultra-famous singer songwriter Ariana Grande was sued by a paparazzi photographer who alleged that the singer posted pictures of herself, taken by him, on her Instagram account without permission. The photographer took photographs of Ariana last year when she was leaving a building and carrying a bag that read “Sweetener”. Ariana later posted these pictures to her Instagram page when her newest album, Sweetener, was released.
According to court documents, Ariana’s Instagram post received millions of “likes” and was used by her to promote her album. The photographer has claimed that the photographs in question were registered with the U.S. Copyright office and is suing Ariana for either the profits that Ariana earned from the post, or $25,000 in damages for each photo. The photographer has alleged that Ariana violated copyright law by posting the pictures on social media without his permission.
While it may sound strange to be sued for posting pictures of yourself, Ariana is not the first celebrity to find herself in legal trouble over social media posts. Khloe Kardashian, 50 Cent and Gigi Hadid (to name just a few) have also been sued for posting paparazzi photos in alleged violation of copyright laws. Legally, being the subject of a photograph does not automatically give someone the right to do with it what they choose, like posting it on social media. In Ariana’s case, as the photographs were taken in a public place and arguably were “newsworthy”, this creates an argument that the photographer did have copyright ownership over the pictures of Ariana.