Tulsa Attorney BlogCan You Sue a Celebrity for Posting a Photo You Took of the Celebrity?

Bieber Sued for Posting Picture of Bieber

Simply Being in a Picture Does Not Give You a Copyright

It’s no surprise that someone would be sued for posting a photo of a celebrity on Instagram. What about when the person sued is the same person in the photo?

Yes, you read that right. Justin Bieber is reportedly being sued for posting a photo – of Justin Bieber – according to court documents obtained by E! News.

California copyright attorney Ted Hasse says it happens more than you might suspect. Celebrities, or anybody for that matter, tend might think they have rights to reproduce any picture that includes their likeness.

“If this happened the way it was reported, this is a winner for the copyright owner and Justin Bieber probably didn’t have rights to post that photo,” Hasse said.

Who Owns the Copyright to Photos You Take?

In most cases, the person who clicks the shutter on a camera or shoots a video is usually the one who owns the image, media or content. Paparazzi – professional celebrity photographers – make their living chasing famous people and selling their pictures.

Paparazzi are often self-employed freelancers, but even a tourist or local resident who sees a celebrity on the street can take a picture of a famous person. That makes them the owner of that photograph.

Obvious exceptions would be when a celebrity hires someone to take pictures. Ownership of the images would be determined in those cases by terms of a contract.

Copyright Law for Photographers

The person being photographed could contract for full ownership of all images taken during a photo session. If the photographer is smart – and their services are in demand — they would sell only limited rights to the photos. Each time the celebrity wanted to use the photos in a new context, they might need to contract for more rights.

On the other hand, the celebrity might want to limit distribution – so the photographer couldn’t sell copies to anybody else, but could still earn more for each new market where the celebrity photos were used. If the photos were used on an movie poster, for example, the photographer might earn royalties depending on how many posters were printed.

Another glitch could be if the photographer is employed by a photo agency. In that case, the employer might own the work product. The photo agency could contract with the famous person the same way as would the freelance portrait photographer.

What Can You Do if Someone Posts Your Copyrighted Photo?

When the subject of a photo or video taken in public gets sued for posting their own photo, the photographer might seek payment or might seek recognition. They might just want to limit distribution so they can earn more by nature of their exclusive ownership of their creative work.

If you have found your photographs used by someone in the photograph, you might feel flattered and leave it at that. On the other hand, you might think you are entitled to recognition or even payment. You probably are. When that happens to you, contact a copyright attorney at Wirth Law Office. Find out what are your rights to your creative work and what you can do to enforce your copyright.

Free Consultation: Oklahoma Copyright Lawyers

A Wirth Law Office Oklahoma copyright attorney can also help you prepare contracts for creative photography work. Before you schedule a session, make sure you secure your rights to the photos, videos or other creative media you produce. Contact an Tulsa copyright lawyer at 918- 879-1681 or send your inquiry using the contact form on this page.

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