Gigi Hadid: I Can Use a Photographer’s Photo Because I Smiled

Famous model Gigi Hadid is being sued by a photo agency for posting a copyrighted photo of her on Instagram without permission. Hadid is now arguing that it was “fair use” because she contributed to the photo by smiling in it.

The 24-year-old model had posted a copyrighted photo of her on a New York City street to her Instagram account @gigihadid, which currently boasts over 48 million followers. The post led to a copyright infringement lawsuit by Xclusive-Lee, Inc., which owns the copyright. Hadid then filed a motion asking the court to toss the suit.

Hadid’s argument is that she didn’t violate the photographer’s copyright “because [she] posed for the camera and thus herself contributed many of the elements that the copyright law seeks to protect.”

The model therefore believes that she was a co-author of the photo and is therefore entitled to rights in it.

Hadid also argues that because she cropped the photo when posting it to Instagram, she “contributed” to the photo by directing her followers to focus on her smile and pose rather than the photographer’s original composition.

A screenshot of the Instagram post at the center of the copyright infringement lawsuit.

Xclusive’s lawyers responded to the motion to dismiss a week later, saying that Hadid has failed to meet the four critical factors that determine fair use.

The agency says that the argument Hadid is a co-author of the photo “just because she noticed the photographer and smiled at the moment the photographer chose to snap the shutter is preposterous,” and that she’s “as much a joint copyright holder in the photograph as the subject of a biography is joint copyright holder to the words used by the author to describe her life.”

The agency is also slamming Hadid’s lack of knowledge in how copyrights work:

“If Hadid’s approach to the issue of an implied license were adopted, the copyrights of the majority of the world’s authors would be obliterated because the only requirement for an implied license would be for the subject of a work of original art would be to claim (not very convincingly) that she winked, smiled, nodded, or otherwise communicated her acceptance to the author.”

Xclusive says that Hadid’s attempt to rewrite copyright law for her own benefit is “alarming,” and that the court should deny the motion to dismiss and allow the copyright infringement case to move forward.

(via The Fashion Law via The Verge)

Image credits: Header photo by Eva Rinaldi and licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0. Exhibit photo via TheTMCA.