Another Celebrity Is Being Sued for Posting a Picture of Themselves on Instagram

Another Celebrity Is Being Sued for Posting a Picture of Themselves on Instagram

In what is becoming a familiar story, yet another celebrity is being sued for posting photos of themselves on Instagram. This time, the celebrity is actress Amy Schumer. 

The suit, filed by New York City photographer Felipe Ramales, alleges that Schumer, a well known actress and comedian, posted two photos of herself taken by Ramales on her Instagram account without receiving permission or licensing them. The two images showed Schumer out with her son, Gene, in New York City in November of last year. In the images, Schumer is seen wearing a "Plus Size Brian" sweatshirt, which she sells on her website. As part of the suit, Ramales' attorney alleges that Schumer thus used the images as advertising for the apparel without obtaining permission from Ramales or giving him appropriate compensation. 

Claudette LLC, Schumer's company, is also named in the suit, as the complaint alleges that the photos were also published on its website. The complaint requests a trial by jury, monetary compensation, and legal fees. It is just the latest in the seemingly never-ending saga of celebrities being sued for posting pictures of themselves on Instagram.

Lead image by Maryanne Ventrice, used under Creative Commons.

Alex Cooke's picture

Alex Cooke is a Cleveland-based portrait, events, and landscape photographer. He holds an M.S. in Applied Mathematics and a doctorate in Music Composition. He is also an avid equestrian.

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Correction: The suit, filed by New York City stalker with a camera Felipe Ramales, followed her around taking pics of her and her son, in hopes that he could ambush her into posting a pic so he could sue her because laws are stupid. Change the law where a person can sue you for taking a picture of them without their permission and these guys can go broke and get a life.

Slippery slope if that were ever a thing. What about freedom of the press? What about security footage capturing people without their permission? What about footage of police officers abusing their power?

"a person can sue you for taking a picture of them without their permission"

...That opens up a huge can of worms.

Person can sue you if you take a picture without permission for financial gain. Don't mix jerk with a camera and photojournalist who can claim freedom of press.

Sam, please read. I suggest starting with the topic of "reasonable expectation of privacy".

Actually in the US you can be sued for using an image of a person in commercial promotions without permission. You’re allowed to sell your photo of Amy Schumer to a tabloid that wants to do an “Amy Schumer Takes a Walk!” story. You’re not allowed to use it in an ad campaign.

Exactly. It is called editorial use only.

Wrong. You cannot be sued for taking a picture in public, whether for commercial use or not. You can only be sued for USING the photo for commercial gain.

This isn't press, it's stalking for money. These guys stand in front of cars and harass celebs to try and get them angry. Security footage isn't stalking, police is a public service not a woman walking with her son. Stalking for money is the topic.

I totally get what you take issue with but I think your suggested solution would have a lot of unintended negative implications. This is why writing laws is tricky.

Making it illegal to capture images of people in public without their consent is EXTREMELY broad. I would suggest thinking about way to make turning a profit from those images harder.

"This isn't press" "Security footage isn't stalking"

Yes but your overly general law could be used to protect people who are actually committing crimes. It would make photojournalism a crime. How can you not see that?

So change paparazzi to a stalking crime and done. Like the do not call list we all add our names too. It pretty much stopped the same type of people from harassing us on a daily basis.

Idk if you know what robocalling or number spoofing is but a Do Not Call list does nothing to stop scammers.

Once again your solution would have a negative impact on other areas related to photography. That would effectively make all street photography illegal if ANY people are in the photo. It would make taking photos of police officers illegal because they could say photographers who take their images are "stalking" them and thus make it easier for them to hide when they are abusing their powers. All of that just because you're trying to defend a celebrity from being photographed? I'm kinda glad you don't write laws in the United States.

And police ALREADY try to tell people that they can't take pictures/record video of them (they can and should). So imagine if they actually had a legitimate law to reference. Bye bye to the extremely small amount of police accountability we have now. Which is exactly the opposite of what needs to happen regarding law enforcement in the United States.

Again that's a public service position. And bringing up street photography and the way some of those photographers harass people is the same argument. Don't worry about me writing laws, be glad I don't find you interesting enough to stalk you and your family day and night because I'm allowed to by law.

You can't just "change paparazzi." How do you define it? How do you do it such that it doesn't include non-paparazzi or such that the paparazzi can't just claim they're not paparazzi?

You can't. Your suggestion would apply in broad strokes to everyone.

"The crime of stalking can be simply described as the unwanted pursuit of another person. Examples of this type of behavior includes following a person, appearing at a person's home or place of business..."

"In most states, stalking laws pertain to the relatively new crime involving a clear pattern of conduct in which the offender follows, harasses, or threatens another person, putting that person in fear for his or her safety. An individual may be charged with stalking regardless of any pre-existing relationship with the victim."

Nevermind officer, I'm just a famous person and they are paparazzi or an over anxious street photographer. It's okay then.

You do realize that in every state, the person being stalked has to get a restraining order first, right? And the requirements to issue restraining orders can often be quite restrictive (too much so, in my opinion). So, Schumer could try to do that and then that would be that.

However, she didn't - and even used an image that her "stalker" took - so I'm quite confused about what you think should be different but not egregiously and negatively effect other people/photographers.

And to be clear: restraining orders absolutely have been successfully filed against paparazzi before. Celebrities are not unaware of this option.

You're also entirely speculating that this person was even "stalking" her.

David Glove, please read. I suggest starting with the topic of "reasonable expectation of privacy".

You misspelled my name. I don't listen to people that join a photography site just to talk smack and never post the pics they are supposed to have taken. Bye Felicia.

Davig Love, Please stop trying to change the subject which is.....your ignorance of the law. I think that is more important as people like you run around spouting your opinions about what people should do even if they are lawful actions.

I'll learn law when you master basic spelling.

I won't hold my breath as you thrive in ignorance.

Irrelevant as well as silly.

Even if the law was changed to require permission to take photos in a public place that still wouldn't give people the right to use copyright images without permission.

Law does not have to change. You are not allowed to take picture of the stranger (unless stranger is celebrity or politician) and sell it copyright or not. Try to sell your picture to Getty images with recognizable people in it.

Lol, the level of stupidity on these forums is up to 11. Just because you do not like something doesn't make it illegal.

Getty just has a blanket ban on recognizable people because in *some* countries it's illegal. In Australia, for example, you can take anyone's photo in public and sell it for financial profit without any issue.

Sorry Sam but you are wrong.
Just because a company won't do something (company policy) doesn't mean it is not legal to do it/you can't do it. You are confusing selling with using.

In the US you need a person's permission to USE their likeness for advertising, marketing etc. The vast majority of images sold by Getty are for use in marketing (adverts/ websites etc) so you need to have the subjects permission. Also Getty want to minimise the risk of being sued which they do by making sure you have the subjects permission. - This is their company policy and has very little to do with the law.

You DON'T need a person's permission to take a photo of them and sell that photo (as an art print for example). If you needed people's permission most of the Street Photography Photo books that have been published wouldn't exist.

Now that is not just silly but stupid. If they changed the law these people would have no images to copyright in the first place.

How about expanding the need to have release forms signed to get ownership of content. That would have less of an impact on photography in public places and take away the revenue stream of the paparazzi stalkers.

Sorry David Glove. Law doesn't work that way and tuff shizz if you can't take it.

if I won a millions dollars.... big IF. and highly unlikely.

Don't be a moron. Celebs are rich so they should pay? The pic wouldn't have been taken if they weren't celebs, nor would it be valuable at all. You want pics of a celeb, you go through their agent, sign contracts or releases and they get paid. Or just stalk and ambush them taking out the garbage or out with their kids and then just wait for someone to use the image to sue. How did she even see the image? Where did he post it? Walking with her kid isn't photojournalism. It's stalking for money.

If I had the time I'd love to follow you around all day in public snapping away and see if you like the laws then. Maybe I can get you mad enough to knock my camera down so I can bank off you for that.

You are way too hyper focused on celebrity. Say someone goes to a photography studio to have their portrait taken. Should they be allowed to use the images if they haven't paid for them? Using your argument, they would be able to claim they also own the photos. Your solution would effectively kill business for portrait photographers.

Maybe you should do less name calling too.... When has that ever been an effective way to convince someone of your point. Esp in a comments section.

They don't sign a release form in your studio? With your logic nobody needs to book clients in a studio, we just stand outside their homes and take unflattering pics of them when they come out. Then we either use those free public pics to sell without their permission or wait for them to post so we can sue them.

I don't think you understand how a photo release works.

A release (for a studio) is only needed to use the photos to promote the studio. Taking a photograph doesn't require a release and neither does selling their images back. The release is for the studio to use the images for their own marketing and portfolio.

A release can be whatever is written that they sign. It might be permission to use the image for promotional material, for a certain magazine article, permission to retouch or alter the images or video, etc. if you want to read up on it.

And if they come to the studio the first thing they are asked to do is to sign model release and agreement to use resulting pictures for personal use only. Before any pictures are taken.

davig glove, are you a recovering pap? you really seem to know what tactics they use down to the T. you seem to hate their behavior. u must be ex-pap.

Your comment says (edited). How many times did you edit it to try and be clever? Was it the spelling that threw you off?

david g. love, I was trying to be kind by removing the word "idiot" from my reply about 15 times after reading your post.

566 Comments, not one photo uploaded. Shhhh.

I can upload a million photos but that would not change the impression people have of you on these forums: a clown with a big mouth attached to an empty vessel of a brain.

David Love- there is a ton of legal precedent regarding photographing celebrities and non celebrities in what is legally considered public places. A majority of those cases were esblished by the lawsuits regarding paparazzi Ron Gallella. Personally I think Gelella is a horrible human being and hurts all photographers. However the law is a matter of fact and neither your opinion nor mine matters. The law states that permission is not needed to photograph someone in a public place. However that does not make photographers immune if they physically or otherwise harass and threaten their subjects beyond simply taking their picture. Photographers are not immune to trespass on private property These precedents have been upheld again and again in US courts. IF your kids are in a public space does a stranger have a right to photograph them in a non-commercial context. Yes they do. However it is creepy and most ethical photographers will ask permission even if not legally required. Most ethical paparazzi and photojournalists work with celebrities to find some mutual ground to coexist. If a celebrity is out in public with their kids they are both fair game. However some famous parents have publicly let paparazzi’s know that if they keep the kids out go the pictures they will (reluctantly) cooperate. If a paparazzi is not being an A-hole the celebrity is more likely to not turn away, cover their face or try to spoil the image.

No! Celebrities are absolutely not entitled to be financially compensated when photographed in public. There is not nor can there be a legal distinction between photojournalists for news outlets like The NY Times and Paparazzi who are photojournalists in entertainment news.

Jon, why waste time on david glove's reading comprehension. guy is stuck in a basement and has nothing better to do.

Copyright laws exist to protect artists' expression and intellectual property. You may not like how Felipe Ramales conducts his work but it's still protected. Celebs may not like it but, as public figures, they forego anonymity in public.

The fact that Schumer's company used the photo means it has some value to the star and her online store. He deserves some compensation.

The fact that he took the pic in the first place means it has some value to him. "Intellectual property" kind of sounds like a persons own body doesn't it. An Actor is an "artist" in another form and it's getting an "expression" out of them that these stalkers want so they can profit off them.

David, Please educate yourself on the legal precedents regarding paparazzi especially regarding Jackie Kennedy and Ron Galella. The later famously would hide behind bushes and jump out at Jackie to scare her and get an unflattering expression. She tolerated this up until when Galella did the same when her young son John was bicycling out of Central Park and onto Park Ave. He scared the young boy so much the child swerved his bike and came very close to being hit with a car. The courts were very clear with their ruling. They legally separated the right of any photographer to photograph a public or private person in a public space and separately affirmed the right of someone not to be harassed or threatened. Galella absolutely has the right to take pictures of famous people and their children in public and sell those images to news organizations without the celebrity’s permission. That is absolute and our opinions are irrelevant.

On a wholly separate issue Galella did not have the right to harass, menace, scare, assault or otherwise threaten Jackie or her family even if within the context of his legal rights to take their pictures. As Galella ignored the ruling and continued to harass Kennedy while photographing her, the courts issues a rare restraining order that not only prevented Galella from being within a certain distance of Kennedy but since his photography was a part of his menacing her, he was legally restrained from photographing her. That a special restraining order had to be issues to prevent him from photographing Kennedy in public means that when she is otherwise in a public space photographers can legally photograph her without permission.

dadiv, pplease elave your mom's basement and get sum son.

So, you're saying an actor, singer or comedian has special rights outside the workplace? They are immune to the laws which govern copyright?

Plus, you are mixing up "performance" with "news." If Amy Schumer were standing on stage performing, she may have the right to restrict the broadcast of that performance. That protects her intellectual property. If she performs that same comedy set outside on the public street, she is not protected, even if she is performing her craft. And, the fact she is doing so may be newsworthy, therefore creating value for the photographer to capture it. That doesn't mean Schumer has rights to the photographer's work.

The legal grey area is whether social media is equivalent to her company’s website or if she was linking or actively selling the T-shirt in the post. 99.9% of Instagram posts are the equivalent of public conversations which provides an strong argument for fair use. There are a rare few influencers like Kylie Jenner who directly do make a great deal of money off of Instagram and social media. How or should the law differentiate? If you set a legal precedent that passively wearing a brans in an image is automatic commercial advertising, the same precedent would give the owners of any brand standing to require that all photographers get releases and possibly finally license the use of their brand in any image.

Considering the brand on the shirt was for Schumer's own company, I would think the case could be made the intent of the Instagram post was to promote sales of the shirt. What is left out was the text accompanying it; did it have a link to Schumer's store, for example, which would make the post a direct commercial appeal?

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