You take a picture of someone while out on the street and post it to your Instagram feed. They then repost your image. The BBC questions whether this is fair.
To put that in context, the discussion revolves around celebrities and their love-hate relationship with the paparazzi. Let's face it, if someone trails you around all day looking to catch you looking your worst, with a lover, going topless, or just looking rubbish, then they are hardly going to form a positive relationship with you. On the flip side of course, there is the mantra that "there is no such thing as bad publicity" (commonly associated with PT Barnum) and having someone freely promoting your brand can be a good thing. It also saves you from hiring a photographer.
However, as the BBC reports, this relationship has become unbalanced with the introduction of social media in to the equation. At this point, the celebrity becomes interested in the images for promoting themselves and so may repost them on their own Twitter or Instagram feed. Of course, copyright is assigned to the person who presses the shutter button which means that anyone else has to seek permission before they can use it. This is where the paparazzi perform a slightly incongruous task because they are interested in using the image rights of someone else for syndication, so performing a public duty. To be clear, this is for news and editorial work and so is allowed, however we now have the individual also wanting to use the images for their own use. The catch, of course, is that money is involved.
The BBC notes that high profile sponsored posts can net over $1 million for the celebrity and not surprisingly the photographer wants a piece of the action. So much so that some paparazzi may well be pursuing copyright infringement (or copyright trolling) as the main monetary income stream rather than the syndication of the image itself. Perhaps the highest profile case to date involved suing Khloe Kardashian to the tune of $175,000 for sharing an image.
Is copyright trolling fair practice? Should celebrities just be more aware of image rights and behave accordingly? Maybe they could hire a photographer instead. Or has this stepped over the mark in to the right of the individual to control their own image, as well as verging on extortion?
Lead image courtesy of Laura6 via Pixabay, used under Creative Commons.