Another Celebrity Sued for Posting a Picture of Themselves on Instagram

Another Celebrity Sued for Posting a Picture of Themselves on Instagram

Model and actress Emily Ratajowski is being sued for $150,000 by a paparazzi photographer after she shared one of his images on her Instagram Story without permission.

The suit, filed by photographer Robert O'Neil in the Southern District of New York, alleges that Ratajowski posted the image on her Instagram Story (which disappears after 24 hours), which showed her holding a bouquet of flowers hiding her face while she was in New York City, accompanied by a caption reading "Mood Forever." O'Neil is also suing for reimbursement of any profits made by Ratajowski from usage of the image. The lawsuit is the latest in what seems to be a growing trend, with other celebrities including Jennifer Lopez, Gigi Hadid, Knloe Kardashian, Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande, and more. The lawsuits have caused fiery debate on both sides, with some holding the line that the photographers are right to enforce their copyrights regardless of the context and that celebrities (or anyone) should always have strict permission to post, while others say that with the invasive nature of paparazzi that often goes to extreme lengths to photograph subjects, the celebrities should at least have some sort of rights to their own image. 

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Ray K's picture

well done to Robert O'Neil. It's like everyone likes to have some professional pictures done but non wants to pay for it. Sometimes it feels like you finish university in photography and automatically get free studio fully equipped with flagship equipment ...

Edison Wrzosek's picture

Ummm, except this wasn't a "professional picture done" by a professional photographer, it was a paparazzi, you know, the vile invasive scum of the photography world, and humanity as a whole?

If this was a photo taken by a LEGITIMATE professional photographer, I'd side with them 110%, but being it's a paparazzi, I'm on the side of Ms. Ratajowski.

Robert Nurse's picture

LOL! It's like wanting credit for stolen artwork. Photographer takes a picture he/she wasn't asked to. Then wants damages. On the other hand, if said celeb didn't want the picture taken, why post it? There's more to this story I'm sure.

Ryan Cooper's picture

The problem is that by the letter of the law, all photographers are the same. There is no distinction between "vile scum of the photography world" and "professional photographer" which means that they both need to be treated the same under the law. if a judge were to rule in favor of Ms. Ratajowski, in this case, it sets a bad precedent for when a photo created by a type of photographer who you approve of has their work stolen.

The standard is simple: "Don't post content unless you have permission or ownership of the use of said content"

Edison Wrzosek's picture

Yes, can’t argue with that, as it’s an unfortunate truth, since like you said, the law, in its present form, doesn’t make any distinctions between the type(s) of photographer one is.

It’s still abhorrent that this sort of thing is allowed to happen. As a photographer myself, I should realistically sympathize with both sides, but I have zero respect for paparazzi.


Robert Nurse's picture

But, I wonder, in the case of paparazzi taking unwanted images, what the law would be. If it's my likeness or that of my kids and you take an unsolicited image, who owns it? Hmmm.

Mark Houston's picture

The photographer own the rights to the images, regardless of how the subject feels about it.

Daniel McAvoy's picture

I can't comment on US laws, but in the UK, as long as you are standing on public land, eg a road or pavement not privately owned, then you can take images of anything you can see from that point, even inside peoples homes, of peoples faces etc.

Deleted Account's picture

Wait, what?!

Paparazzi make their living fron taking photos, and are therefore professional by definition.

Morality has nothing to do with it.

Edison Wrzosek's picture

Tell that to the Royals and the death of Princess Diana...

Even IF morality has nothing to do with it, that's insane, as it damned well should! I sure as hell find it unconscionable to deliberately, and often very aggressively, invade other people's privacy, just for a photo... That immoral, unethical, and downright vile behaviour. That is NOT professional in my books.

The word professional has broader definitions than just performing an act from which you make a profit from commercially...

Deleted Account's picture

Tell that to the IRS. Professional means nothing more than "runs a business".

My response holds; and your personal outrage is meaningless.

Edison Wrzosek's picture

That's interesting, as I do not buy tabloids, nor contribute (as actively as possible by also avoiding click-bait ads or publications known for purchasing paparazzi-created content) to this field of photography. I do this because of the apprehension I have against their immoral behaviour.

The post below from David Love illustrates said behaviour quite well.

Just because the world may be going insane and has an insatiable appetite of immorally-obtained content from immoral people, does not mean I should participate in the pack mentality and lower myself to that behaviour as well, or support them by funding their content, or condoning their actions.

So thanks, but no thanks, my view on this stands.

If anything, this discussion has proven the laws require revising and updating, along with the rest of the abused and flawed copyright system, as the abuse being undertaken by unscrupulous individuals and corporations is exploding, and needs to be reined in.

sam w's picture

the driver of Princess Diana was as much to blame, should all professional drivers of that type be vilified?

Ray K's picture

wow lots of comments. To your surprise I use to work with paparazzi's. I can bet you the way they taking pic like 90% so celled photographers won't be able to replicate them or get any decant pic at the conditions they are working!!!!

some of paparazzi's on day time they are photojournalists in town and in the evening they do this type of shots coz in UK photojournalism don't pay your bills so you have to get more pic to sell.

relation between paparazzi's and celebs like 90% of the time celebs got his/her favorite paparazzi's phone number and they just text them where they are like come to take pic of me. Just to break out some of you guys illusion these shoots don't happen from nowhere.

Celebs keeps bragging about paparazzi's but in reality they can't live without tham. If they don't get in news papers celebs losing money its massive ad in general . All these parties etc... its like celebrity jobs, normally they happening from Monday to Friday from 6pm to 10pm celebs coming to party if they got paparazzi's shot in news paper he/she got payd by pr company for promoting organizers party. Simple is that.

And this case is probably it's set up just for another publication coz in general is so hard to find actual pic or actual paparazzi who made pic if you have no connections with him....

Nick Viton's picture

@emrata sent a note to my friend Chris last month asking if she could repost his pics of her from NYFW on her feed. She was very polite about it and he gladly gave her permission. Check out her Sept 12th entry. That's Chris' work!

James Madara's picture

One could argue that posting a banner, (maybe even animated) with the words "Mood Forever" on an Instagram story would be transformative and could be considered fair use. Maybe she should have thrown a filter on it.

Tony Clark's picture

It is sad that one genre of photographer thinks they are better than another. You may not like or appreciate what one does but we should all support each others Intellectual Property. I hope that this photographer has filed his or her images with the LOC and has the certificate. Only then can they pursue the case and trust me Emily will settle the suit ASAP instead of being subject to the maximum penalty plus legal fees.

davidlovephotog's picture

This can be solved if they just make it illegal to photograph people without their permission. Then every crap magazine or paparazzi show or website can die and companies and talent can start paying for their content. Also ends weirdos taking sneak pics of women or kids in public or profiting from someones fame without permission.

dred lew's picture

That’s unreasonable and unrealistic. No one could take pictures anymore without having to worry about someone being in the shot. In crowded places, that’s impossible.

There is already a law that you can’t commercially profit from someone’s portrait without permission, however that does not apply to “newsworthy” content where it benefits the public. Why celebrities are considered newsworthy I don’t understand. If they were classified like everyone else, the same law would apply and it would bring an end to the paparazzi. But I guess the whole “classification” is where it gets difficult to establish a clear rule.

davidlovephotog's picture

If you go into a stadium or event I'm sure it mentions you could be filmed even if by security cameras. Other than that, profiting from an image of a person without their knowledge just because they stepped outside seems criminal. And news companies are firing all their photographers with long lens for reporters with iphones. So make it a law that paparazzi can only use iphones and I'm super okay with that too.

dred lew's picture

I'm not sure what you're not understanding.You might want to re-read my post again.

Gou Mikami's picture

That's tough. These guys are trying to snap pictures of celebrities without their consent and they get to sue those celebrities for posting pictures of themselves. It would be better for them to just stay home and play at https://大吉カジノ.jp/ベラジョン-カジノ/ instead of going out and getting their picture taken or even sued by some douche.

william hicks's picture

Let's call it what it is "Rich model uses property of independent journalist without permission" Disgusting on what is supposed to be a site for photographers so many people okay with other photographers being ripped off

Pink Ninja's picture

Everyone needs to realize that images are owned by the photographer who created it and that permission from the photographer is required to use any image for any reason.

Mutley Dastardly's picture

The main thing here is, did the paparazi try to solve the issue before going to court.
If he didn't try to fix things in a decent way, the amount should be brought down to much more realistic levels - a few hundred$ maybe.
Can he prove the harm done is worth 150000$ or is he abusing the courts as a gambling machine?
Even when you're a normal photographer instead of a paparazzi - you should try to reach a reasonable aggreement and settle before going into court. When no agreement could be reached - your case stands a lot stronger.
We cannot make a difference between a paparazzi or a normal photographer. In this case the photo was removed after a reasonable time - so how can he claim that damage?

william hicks's picture

Because it being removed did not change the fact it was used. I am sorry you have no idea who commercial licensing works but it isn't 50$ a half a sandwich to shoot and dump in a public park commercial usage can reach five and sex figures easily. A millionaire took the property of an independent journalist and used it to try to enhance their brand (income) and you're okay with that because you don't like their business model.