Ariana Grande may be everywhere at the moment, but that hasn’t stopped the chart-topper becoming the latest in an ever-expanding line of celebrities to face copyright laws. She is now being sued after posting paparazzi photos of herself to her Instagram page, so we ask, should photographers be paid for their usage of such images on Instagram?
A photographer named Robert Barbera took the images, and is now claiming Grande had no right to post the pics. Barbera states she never asked for permission, nor has she paid for usage; she just lifted them from a website and used them freely.
In news sure to irritate Barbera, Grande has over 154 million followers, and the post featuring his photos, without credit, garnered over 3.4 million likes. To make matters worse, Grande allegedly posted the photo on the day her "Sweetener" was released. In the photo she is seen carrying a vintage bag with a custom "Sweetener" logo added to it, and accompanied the picture with a caption of "happy sweetener day." Thus, Barbera believes it was used as a form of promotion for the album.
TMZ reports that the photographer is asking for either the profits she earned from the photos, or $25,000 for each photo, whichever of the two amounts is greater. The photo has since been removed from Grande’s Instagram.
This, and many other of the recent court battles over celebrities posting images of themselves, opens up a new kind of debate. Primarily, it raises questions of the morality of paparazzo photographers, and whether they should be the sole party to profit from such images. Even amongst the photography community, opinion is divided. On the one hand, celebrities accept being photographed in public as part of the territory; a hazard of the job, if you will. While others take a much harder line, insisting that as they are the subject of the image, it is fair use to use on their own social media pages, and seemingly treads into new territory in which federal courts must settle on a fair compromise.
The main issue that arises from such legal cases is that it’s nigh impossible to directly link an Instagram post with any profits made as a result. If Instagram Story’s "Swipe Up" option is utilized, there may be means to find a correlation between those who have directly purchased a product as a result of following through from the social media site. However, in most cases, Grande’s included, the image was posted to her feed instead. Quite how many people the picture influenced to buy or stream her album is impossible to know.
If Jennifer Lopez’s recent case is anything to go by, there is perhaps life in such cases. Lopez recently backtracked on her legal dispute, possibly signaling that things were looking to go in the favor of the photographer.