Supermodel Tyra Banks Posts Photographer's Work on Her Instagram Without Permission or Credit

Supermodel Tyra Banks Posts Photographer's Work on Her Instagram Without Permission or Credit

How would you react if you found yourself in the unfortunate predicament of Supermodel Tyra Banks posting several of your images to her legions of followers without credit or permission?

*Update - as of February 6th, Banks has deleted the images from her Instagram. Original story below:

I’m sure almost every photographer reading this, amateur or professional, has encountered some kind of fraudulent image usage in their career. It’s frustrating, to say the least, but in most instances, it can be rectified by sending an email to the perpetrator. Except in this particular situation, the culprit so happens to be a world-renowned model that would be less than easy to contact. A couple of days ago, Tyra Banks began telling her 4.8 million followers that she is "obsessed" with freckles and that she is "feeling [them] a lot" by posting a series of images of freckled models, including two that were taken by UK-based Photographer Don Mupasi.

You’d think that with as much industry experience as Tyra and being someone with as many close photographer friends as she, there would be a little more respect in the way of the importance of tagging and credits in the modern era. There’s clearly a bunch of other photographers who have gone uncredited in Banks’ freckle-image posting spree.

In what must be slight consolation, the story is beginning to go viral somewhat, resulting in the photography community rallying around Mupasi. The posts on Banks’ Instagram are awash with comments tagging the photographer’s handle, with many also making reference to the recent lawsuit involving Kylie Jenner and Makeup Artist Vlada Haggerty.

How would you handle having your images used without permission in front of an audience of millions? Would you be happy with the images being posted as long as you were credited?

[via PetaPixel]

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44 Comments
Alex Cooke's picture

I'm ok with my photos being reposted on Instagram if I'm credited. They're not monetized and I've had a noticeable bump in my local recognition ("you're the guy with that awesome leaf photo!"). Obviously, that only helps if I'm credited.

Jonathan Brady's picture

While the image itself isn't monetized, social networks are a way to make money. Sometimes directly, sometimes indirectly. Growing your audience and/or engagement puts $$ in your pocket and using someone else's work to achieve that is theft, IMO.

Jack Alexander's picture

I agree. I actually wouldn't be surprised if soon laws started changing to reflect it. Social media tags are definitely a currency. I just shot in what is usually a £1200-a-night hotel suite... in return for social media tags.

Michael Murphy's picture

Tyra should know better, but its the culture of 'our' society to take what we want because 'we' are entitled to have what we want and desire. Still doesn't make it right but going after people who have more money than you will only result in you wasting all your money trying to collect what was yours to start with while they just wait for you to run out of finances and then you loose.

Motti Bembaron's picture

I agree, since there is no monitory benefit on her part, a credit would be great.

John Lind's picture

Yeah there is - she benefits monetarily by the value the Instagram account adds to her name and celebrity status. It's there to increases the amount she can demand for her work.

stir photos's picture

This situation is way above my pay grade...

Kerry Bern's picture

In reality the only people who pay attention to photo credits are other photographers. "Exposure" does not pay my bills or put food on the table. I would be considering legal action if this happened to me.

Motti Bembaron's picture

What if you asked the model you photographed (let's say Tyra Banks) if you could use her photos (that you took) on your Instagram account? Do you think you should pay her for that? Even if you are not making a penny doing so?

Karim Hosein's picture

If I photographed her, I would not need to ask her for any additional permission, because it would have already been given in the contract. I took the photograph, I have copyright. This seems to be the case where Instagram publishing without credit was not in the contract. Violation of licensing terms.

Tyra does not have copyright, the photographers do. You cannot just turn it around and claim a double standard. That is not how it works; that is not how any of this works.

Motti Bembaron's picture

Canadian laws say so also.

However, do you restrict your clients from using their images on social media?

Most photographers now days let clients post their images on social media. If I restricted my clients from doing so I would be unemployed. It would have been nice to have the credit but clients are not required to do so.

They paid for the photos to be able to have them and use them, at least in my case.

I do not know the background behind this case, though.

Karim Hosein's picture

In this case, Tyra Banks was not even the client. She lifted the photo from somewhere else, then posted.

In my case, depending on who the client or what the shoot, certain restrictions are placed on social media postings, such as, always credit, can only be used in this or that way, can only be used for such time, etc.

Motti Bembaron's picture

As I said, I do not know the whole story. I guess she felt entitled but I doubt she had any bad intentions, although, credit is always appreciated. As for your conduct of clients rights, it makes sense.

Buddy Lindsey's picture

I definitely fall in the "its the principal of the thing" camp on this. While I would love it if my photos made it I also want the respect enough to ask and give credit.

Mike Kelley's picture

The problem is that a lot of photographers see it as beneficial to have their work reposted by large accounts in order to grow their own account. The issue is that in many cases these large accounts are making money off the content they post, either through direct advertising or affiliate deals. I see this a lot in the airline industry...For example Airport XYZ will brazenly take one of my images and post it on their account, thus building their brand off of my image and assuming that I'd be grateful for that - not so - you're a billion dollar entity, I'm working out of my apartment as a one man show. Photographers need to be educated that this is not OK. Registering your images with the USCO and hiring a lawyer for large infringements is one way to combat this, but most photographers are not registering their images due to either cost or time involved.

Tomash Masojc's picture

In my country, one newspaper used photographers photo without crdeits, he is in organization that protects artist rights....you know how much they should to pay for that now? ,,,,,,34 euros....

Michael Kormos's picture

Time for a good copyright attorney, Mike. Would be happy to recommend the one we regularly work with. Drop me an e-mail if you'd like me to introduce you.

Susan Brown's picture

Tyra should know better - with all the years she worked with photographers as well as the fact that she herself has shot many photoshoots on America's Top Model.

Tam Nguyen's picture

I'm guessing she's not "smilzing" this time around.

Jack Alexander's picture

Smizing*

Almost Tam, almost!

Black Z Eddie .'s picture

Shame on Tyra!

Tim Britt's picture

I cant tell you how many pro, olympic, ncaa athletes do this to me..bottom line most people in the spotlight dont give a crap about giving credit..$$ is even more of a joke.

Simon Pollock's picture

Tyra posts, but Tyra Beauty are also responsible for a lot of the content that goes on her social media - a lot of the time when this happens, it's ill-informed junior social media assistants / coordinators that are at fault... edu-ma-cation isn't strong with a lot of them.

Martin Van Londen's picture

My question is, did the photogrpher get paid for the shoot, and what kind of contracts did they sign?

Just look at the video world, if someone makes a commercial, you do not see "directed by" At the end.

This is a complicated issue. This there more information about this? You should get the whole story before you get bent out of shape about it.

Jack Alexander's picture

The photographer has confirmed the images were lifted without his permission. They were shot for projects relating in no way to Tyra.

Martin Van Londen's picture

Ahh yes. That's just petty.

Martin Van Londen's picture

Ok. So it's bad what Tyra did. But what is worse.. is how compressed the photo is. I mean come on.

Dallas Dahms's picture

It's a very delicate issue and finding yourself in a position like this can be somewhat daunting. I think the best approach is to make contact with Tyra Banks directly (or through her management) and explain that she is violating your copyright by using an image out of licence. She can react a number of ways; 1) she can apologise and either rectify the situation by crediting you or paying you to use the images, or 2) she can ignore you or 3) she can be belligerent.

My Dale Carnegie hat says the best option is to turn a negative into a positive and try to win friends, so if this was my photography (fat chance, but anyway) I would definitely make contact and ask her very nicely to perhaps credit me with the images. I would explain that because she has 4.8m followers having this acknowledgement can most definitely be beneficial to my career. If I didn't get the desired response I wanted (#1 above) then I think I would probably get some advice. I definitely wouldn't lash out online or threaten her with litigation in any way because that could have a lot of negative blow-back for my career. What I might do is simply pass a comment on the image that I was the photographer and that if there are any other models out there looking for a similar look they could contact me via this link.

It's not first prize but the stress of having to engage her on a legal level isn't worth it, I think.

Matt Armendariz's picture

Last year Britney Spears posted my photo on her instagram account (I mean, a photo of a recipe that I shot for Food Network). I didn't follow her at the time but noticed people started tagging me asking for credit, which I thought was nice. Didn't bother me one bit that she did it, I thought it was funny.

I should also note that when a celebrity posts a photo of mine with credit I don't always see a huge bump in followers or phone calls, for what it's worth...

Michael Murphy's picture

This isn't just a 'Photography' Issue. I've had my pieces of my artwork out-right bootlegged, and other pieces made under contract paid for with a canceled check and then lithograph copied so the person who 'bought' my artwork could make money off of it all without permission to do so or even paying me initially because in the ten minutes it took me to hand over the product and walk to the bank he canceled the check he gave me. Then when I went back to his office to find out what happened he was now unavailable and unreachable. I eventually got paid for the ‘original’ art-work after hiring a Private investigator who found out that the ‘client’ had lithograph copies made that he was ‘selling’. We confronted the ‘client’ with the evidence threatened a lawsuit and he paid me the original price and compensation for the copies he sold.

I also had some 2D Digital Mosaic Series artwork I intended only for my own personal screensaver slideshow for my own computers out-right copied, stolen and sold over and over and over. It was based on Hirosafe wood-block prints from Japan. I did this artwork originally in Windows 3.1 Paint and went to a Kinkos-type business for some prints to hang on my wall.
Well somehow my digital art-work got copied and stolen and I found not only various printed versions all around the area I live but also parts of it adorning T-Shirts all over the place including at the boardwalk at the New Jersey sea shore and even many years later adorning a T-shirt worn on a television series sitcom by a famous actress all without permission or payment of any kind toward me.

Several years later I went to college at the Art Institute of Philadelphia, many years after I originally created this ‘art-work’ and put it on the ‘network’ during my Interactive Multimedia class for roughly 10 minutes for the multimedia instructor to use it doing this class for a demonstration he was doing on making an interactive web-site. I didn’t really care because it wasn’t even close to my best work and it had already been bootlegged all over the place.

Wait it gets better. Well in the ten minutes it was on the ‘Network’ it was downloaded by another student (at least one that I know about) who then a year later included it in her Graduating Portfolio, Interactive Digital Portfolio Display and in her Online Interactive Web Portfolio. She was hired straight out of college because of my artwork in her portfolio. Now here’s the punch-line of this joke; Funny thing is was this ‘Art-work’ that I did just for myself and never even though it was all that good was what I considered ‘My Garbage’. Yes, my Garbage has been circulated all over the place, made many people money off of my work, adorned many, many T-shirts, was seen worn by a famous actress on a television Sitcom series and even got someone hired straight out of college for a position making 40K plus a year all without credit or payment to the Art-works original creator, me.

I've even had my 3D models 'borrowed' without my knowledge, permission, credit or compensation toward me by other 'Artists'. Face it, people, some who call themselves ‘Artists’, and others who just like your art-work and want it will steal whatever they can to make a buck. People will rob you blind; you can take all the precautions you wish but if someone wants it they will take it no matter what you do to protect yourself or it. Deal with it.

I haven't yet had the privileged of having any of my photographs (that I know of) stolen but give it time, it will happen; its the nature of the society we live in.It is what it is, Deal with it.

Jonathan Reid's picture

I could be wrong on this, but I don't think there is any legislation preventing the use of copyrighted images on social media. Tyra Banks is not using the images for commercial gain. The legislation needs to change.

John Lind's picture

Guess again - there is. You cannot willy-nilly post copyrighted material on social media - for commercial gain or otherwise. Takedown notices are routinely filed with every social media platform.

John Priest's picture

Most people post pics like TYRA out of good will and personal thoughts... purely feeling the moment to post a nice pic with a compliment.
HOWEVER... Tyra might not be "thinking" about the credentials or WHO took the pics, along with her thoughts of " feeling obsessed with freckles" so here is the solution.... (in my opinion)

INSTAGRAM and FACEBOOK should have an EASY way for the poster to "add credentials" to a photo BEFORE they post live. Maybe a text field or something that is a subtle NUDGE to the poster to add (if they know) who took the photo and give proper credit. Im sure tyra wasn't thinking about the formality of posting these pictures, she was just posting what she felt. Yes she should know better being in the biz, but when someone is sitting on the toilet posting a pic they probably are not thinking about crediting us photographers. Just saying...

Percy Ortiz's picture

Before This Post = I knew who Tyra Banks was, I didn't know she didn't give a crap about copyright. I didn't know who Don Mupasi was...

After This post = I still know who Tyra Banks is. Now I know she doesn't give a crap about copyright. I now also know Don Mupasi is a photographer. I wouldn't hire him...

Michael Murphy's picture

When you grab a 'Free' photo (or any other 'Free' image) off the Internet because everything on the Internet is and should always be 'Free'; you should know that someone somewhere created that image therefor even if you aren't going to pay for it (because its 'Free') you should at least be giving credit to someone for that image. Think about it, if you created an image and no one was going to pay you because its 'Free' wouldn't you like to at least have credit for the creation? Just seems fair, don't you think?

Phil Stefans's picture

Aren't we all just getting a little sensitive about this? I mean, every time a pic of ours is displayed we need to be credited? In what other creative industry does that happen? I mean stealing images is one thing, but its the subject sharing the image. And yes, she might not own the copyright but she's obviously proud of a photo of her and wants to display it.

Natalie Lawrence's picture

I'm astonished that barely any commenter hasn't mentioned Instagram's Terms of Use, which states clearly under the Rights section, Clause 4, that owners must own the Content they post or have the right to grant the rights and licenses to it. They also must ensure that posting the Content does not violate copyrights.

Regardless of anything else, Tyra Banks has broken Instagram's Terms of Use and therefore Mupasi, if he hasn't done so already, should report her account and Instagram should suspend or close it.

Instagram and crucially, other photographers, need to make a stand on this. A credit without asking does not hide the fact she did not have the good grace and manners to ask the photographer. She probably assumed she could take it because she could. I agree with others that, with her group of photographer friends, one would assume she'd know better - clearly not.

I'm glad at least that this has been brought to attention but I can imagine for Mupasi this is incredibly annoying.

Gram Parsons's picture

Jack, looks like you've posted the picture as well without giving credit

Jack Alexander's picture

The entire article is about the photographer, and I've linked to his portfolio...

Julien Jarry's picture

Luckily as you said, an email in most cases could rectify the situation. Recently this happened to me, a professional rock climber posted a picture to her instagram with 150k followers and didn't give me photo credit. I was able to send her a few messages over different platforms where she is active and she eventually tagged me and made it right.

Eve Harlowe's picture

Perhaps I'm just ignorant, but I see celebrities and everyday folks posting images ( that they clearly did not capture themselves, and i'm pretty sure they didn't get permission from the photographer) on social media ceaselessly. I kinda don't get what the big deal is. It's not like she's running an ad campaign with someone elses' image. And clearly, it wasn't about the quality of the photography its self, she just liked the girls freckles...I don't get it. Now, if people are saying credit the photog, because that my bring him/her work, because she is a high profile public figure, then ok I can see that. However, she is clearly not trying to take credit for the work, nor is she profiting off of the work. So again I don't get it.

Beth Ruck's picture

Instagram will remove images you hold the copyright to if you fill out the form here:
https://help.instagram.com/contact/372592039493026
I did it recently for a number of companies using my images without permission and they were taken down within a few hours.

Eduardo Cervantes's picture

Lock her up!