Ariana Grande Is Being Sued by the Same Photographer Again

Popular singer Ariana Grande is no stranger to legal run-ins with photographers, and the latest involves her using an image without permission to promote her clothing line, leading to another lawsuit.

The lawsuit, filed by paparazzi photographer Robert Barbera, is actually not the first between the two. Barbera filed an earlier lawsuit after Grande posted two photos of herself to her Instagram without his permission, eventually leading to an out-of-court settlement. The new lawsuit, filed in a New York federal court, alleges that Grande posted the photos "willfully, intentionally, and purposefully, in disregard of and indifference to [Barbera's] rights."

What likely makes the lawsuit much stronger for Barbera is that the photos were used for direct promotion by Grande. Grande posted the image in question on her Instagram story in 2018, in which she is shown wearing a "Sweetener" sweatshirt, with a caption that read: "My Merch Is So Cute and Comfy, Swipe Up To Get Da Look." Swiping up led to a link to purchase the aforementioned sweatshirt.

Barbera is no stranger to such lawsuits, having filed against Justin Bieber, Versace, CBS, and more in the past. He specifically references his history with Grande in the suit as further evidence of her disregard for his rights and is asking for a monetary judgment of "actual damages and Grande’s profits, gains or advantages of any kind attributable to [her] infringement of his photo," along with punitive damages and his own costs for pursuing the suit.

Lead image by Wikipedia user Emma, used under Creative Commons.

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Daniel Medley's picture

"Swipe Up To Get Da Look ..."

The vernacular alone should be grounds for life in a gulag. Combined with stealing images, breaking rocks should be part of the package, too.

But I'm admittedly approaching the grumpy old dude point in life.

Michael Dougherty's picture

I kind of learned back in the hippy days, circa 1969, capturing an image of someone without their permission is stealing some of their essence. You have to give something up to the person being photographed.

Daniel Medley's picture

I'm too pragmatic to buy into the "stealing their essence."

Deleted Account's picture

That’s literally the opposite of this lawsuit

James Fluhler's picture

I do feel like if you capture an image of someone without their permission and/or without a modeling contract; that the photographed people should have rights to use the image. I don’t feel its fair for celebrities to be hounded by paparazzi and then be sued for using the images taken by those people.

Benoit Pigeon's picture

At the same time, famous people owe it to the news and photographers to get where they are. I despise paparazzis.

Eric Salas's picture

They work on contracts, hire people when they need to, and have teams of people to market/promote them.

They don’t owe the news or photographers anything. Paparazzi IMO are leaches and shouldn’t own the right to anyone’s likeness/image because without the person in the photo, the images are worthless.

Benoit Pigeon's picture

They don't "owe" actual money but they get the most for their investment which is basically showing up and some expenses. If you want to sell that cereal box, you pay for each ad, tv, print or what ever. If you are Grande, you get free press, on E, teenage magazines, may be the Super Bowl half time one day. That's worth millions of dollars in advertising. I mean they even have E, a totally dedicated tv channel and may be even get paid for some perfume ads that will show on that very channel as well as other. Each exposure is $, income. If you can't see that, we don't need to elaborate any longer on the topic.

Eric Salas's picture

And E is built on using the likeness of celebrities to even exist... meaning they are leaches. That isn’t advertisement, that is vouyerism.

In you words, “if you can’t see that, we don’t need to elaborate any longer on the topic”

Benoit Pigeon's picture

Leaches, voyeurism, yeah sure, call it what you want, people ask for it or it wouldn't exist for the past, and I just checked, 32 years!. Just a guess?

Mike Ditz's picture

Celebs who use pix without permission and get sued need to listen to their lawyers not their social media team...

And sometimes the paps cross a line and are especially obnoxious, and sometimes celebs hit them with their cars.

But, come on folks, paps need celebs and celebs need paps... I knew a few people who made it big in Hollywood or married people who made it big in Hollywood as well, and have never seen them in the tabloids. Why, because they choose not go that route for promotion. They don't get drunk and leave Mr Chows thru the front door. They don't arrested. They have good lawyers.
A friend of a friend was a big part of the British gutter press in the 90s. He would get calls from managers and mid level celebs in need of a press bump saying Hey, if you go to the Ivy around 2pm MissX and MrY are going to have "an intense conversation, there will be tears" but they will kiss out by her car later.
BUT this was more than 15 years ago, many of the new paps (a lot of Russians for some reason) today work for agencies and are given an hours training with a DSLR with a long lens or a wide and a flash and a black SUV. Chasing tips from valets, club managers and pr folks around is what they do for not alot of money.
With the money he made, ($30k in licenses a week during the peak) the friend of a friend got out of the business and bought an apartment building in Burbank where industry people stay when doing business.

Robert Nurse's picture

What I don't understand, though, is that if paparazzi are so disdainful, why do these celebs turn around and use their images without permission? You can't have it both ways. Either hire them or hire your own photographer(s) on a contract basis. They photograph you. You pay them. You own the images you purchase. It's not that hard.

Ann Quimby's picture

Fortunately for photographers, the law doesn't work that way. Just because you're willing to give up your rights doesn't mean everyone else is.

Alexander Petrenko's picture

Not just the essence, but also part of their soul and cosmic energy. And it also scratches their chakras, though not as heavily as video.

Alex Herbert's picture

I once captured a man's entire aura on video. He paid a hefty price to have it returned.

Michael Dougherty's picture

In 1969, after photographing a real hippie, I gave up a strand of hair in payment for their image. Of course I had plenty of hair in those days.

Gil Gamesh's picture

You didn't learn that nonsense, you were told it and swallowed the line, hook, weight & sinker.

Tony Clark's picture

Intellectual Properties, respect it or suffer the consequences.

Rob Neal's picture

Not sure who is using who in these events however, this is the second lawsuit. You think losing the first one would have made her more cautious 🤔

Eric Salas's picture

It really depends on what he’s asking in compensation. Legal fees are more costly than just paying some leach money to go away.

Taylor Kerns's picture

But wait a minute...

Your only her photographer... You weren't the one who came up with the idea. Why do I feel like this isnt ok??? I mean yeah okay she used the photo... (I don't have insta and didn't see the photo) but still. This guy is treating it like she posted something so negative though.

Dan Marchant's picture

He's not "her photographer", he's an independent photographer... and he was the one who came up with the idea of pressing the shutter at that moment. So under copyright law he owns the photograph and she needs his permission to use it.

Gil Gamesh's picture

"Your (you're) only her photographer."

If you use an image without permission you have to pay those royalties and usage fees.
Furthermore, should you directly promote an item and there's a link to a product, it's as simple as it gets to prove without doubt that this artist has misappropriated another artist's imagery for financial gain.

No brainer for the attorney. Daft as it comes from AG.

Michael Krueger's picture

I'm of the impression this guy makes a living off lawsuits rather than getting paid work as a photographer.

chris bryant's picture

In this case he wasn't paid for his work, hence the legal action.

Michael Krueger's picture

Very true, but not the point I was trying to make. It feels to me like he's going around photographing famous people in hopes of later filing a lawsuit. He seems to have made a habit of it. Although personally I understand he owns the copyright legally but I also disagree with the law on that. It's strange to me that if I leave my home anyone can photograph me and not only own but use the image of me however they want while I've got zero rights to it.

Brennan Sheremeto's picture

That's not true. There are very specific ways they could use your image.

The photographer actually couldn't have used the image in the same way she did, he couldn't sell the photo to someone to use in an advertisement.

Lee Christiansen's picture

No, he is going around taking images of people in the hope that someone will pay him for those images - which is fair enough.

Your comment is like saying "that crash victim was just driving around hoping someone would hit him."

If the photographer's hope was that someone may break the law and he would find them out, it would be a fairly desperate and not cost effective way of running a business. It's more certain to take a picture and someone actually pay to use it - pity Ariana hasn't worked this simple equation out yet.

Lee Christiansen's picture

Well if people aren't paying him to use his images, then lawsuits are all that's left.

Simple solution - pay him for the images first, or get sued later. Seems cut and dry to me. I don't care whether he is paparazzi or not. The images belong to him. No one gets to use them without his express permission, which I'm guessing has a £££ cost, which is fair enough.

davidlovephotog's picture

My goal in life now is to take a picture of him taking a picture of her and wait until they both post it. Double the money.

Jacques Cornell's picture

All that success and she's still an amateur.

user 65983's picture