Jessica Simpson Sued by Licensing Agency for Posting Paparazzi Photo on Instagram

Jessica Simpson Sued by Licensing Agency for Posting Paparazzi Photo on Instagram

In what appears to be a rising trend, Jessica Simpson is the latest famous face landing in legal trouble after posting an image of themselves on Instagram.

Simpson was photographed leaving the Bowery Hotel in New York on August 9, 2017, with the images appearing in an online article for the Daily Mail. It was following the Mail’s article going live that Simpson posted the photo to her account.

Splash News was licensing the photos and had allowed the Mail a limited license; however, no permission was ever granted to Simpson. Splash is now claiming damages, arguing that Simpson posting it had directly harmed their chances of profiting from the photo. What’s more, the photo is alleged to have had the copyright management information removed, so no details about the photographer or the copyright were available.

Lawyer Peter E. Perkowski wrote:

Simpson’s Instagram post and Twitter tweet made the photograph immediately available to her nearly 11.5 million followers and others, consumers of entertainment news — and especially news and images of Simpson herself, as evidenced by their status as followers of her — who would otherwise be interested in viewing licensed versions of the photograph in the magazines and newspapers that are plaintiff’s customers.

The incident is similar to the situation Bruno Mars found himself in recently, after being sued by a photographer who had taken a picture of him as a child, which he posted without credit or permission.

Lead image credit: John VanderHaagen on Flickr, used under Creative Commons.

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14 Comments

William Kelly's picture

Shakespeare was right.

Mokhtar Chahine's picture

I still cant get over how silly it is that a person could get sued if they post a picture lf themselves. Without “ME” in this photo the photo wouldn’t exist.

Michael Holst's picture

Without the photographer the photo wouldn't exist either. That chicken/egg debate won't ever end and goes on forever.

I see it as better to discuss who owns the rights to a photo and who can legally claim revenue from it.

Also what happens to career photographers when they don't get paid for their work.

Mokhtar Chahine's picture

I do see your valid point Micheal, If the photo was of an object "a rock or food photography" for example" It would make more sense to sue someone for copyright/licensing. But when it comes to one person photographing another human being, I think there has to be better ground rules.

Michael Holst's picture

I think the problem is that Simpson is a spokes person for her brand. One could make the argument that her using the photo promotes herself and that promotion ultimately leads to monetary gain where she never paid that person for the work he put in. If she were a non-celebrity and there is not really a potential for money to be made from its use (more just on a personal level) there's not much to say about what the photographer deserves.

If a business used a photo they found online of their products they aren't allowed to use it for marketing unless they get the rights from the artist. I see this as being the same situation only that Jessica Simpson is in the business of selling her likeness and her brand.

Casey Fry's picture

And yet the photog is making money on Jessica's brand and celebrity, which to me seems a bit of a violation as well... who is violating who?

Michael Holst's picture

Good point. Wouldn't her type of brand and celebrity depend upon the economy of photographers wanting to take photographs of her? If there's no incentive for him to photograph her (possible income) she doesn't get exposure.

Christian Santiago's picture

And without a photographer, that picture doesn't exist either. If draw a portrait or paint a portrait of you, it still belongs to me even if it is in your likeness. Photography is no different.

Kurnia Lim's picture

I don't really understand about this copyright thing, but if the photographer doesn't have model release, can he/she sell the image, or copyrighted it?

If it was shot in public it’s fair game (as I understand it)

Matt Cheale's picture

It states it was taken leaving a hotel. I've not seen the picture but if she was on private property, where would that leave things? Especially regarding this case.

Michael Holst's picture

Private property doesn't create an invisible line the camera cannot see across. If the photographer is standing on public property they're free to photograph anything within plain view.

If he was ON the private property when taking a photo then yes it would be a problem.

"if the photographer doesn't have model release, can he/she sell the image"
If the photo was taken in public view, the image can be sold 2 ways. First it can be sold as "art", as most street photography is sold. Second it can be sold as editorial, such as to a newspaper. What it CAN NOT be sold as, without a model release, is a commercial image used to endorse a product/service.

A picture of Jessica Simpson sitting in the park drinking a Coke can be sold to the local newspaper. The same picture can't be sold to Coke for use in an advertising campaign without a model release.

Exactly. It's incredible how many commenters on this website have no idea about how copyright works, or about when model releases are and are not required.