Bella Hadid has been sued by a photographer who claims to have screenshotted their photo being used without permission on the supermodel’s Instagram story.
In the lawsuit which was filed on Wednesday, a company called Chosen Figure — that represents a “professional photographer” — accused Hadid of taking their photo of her and posting it on social media without consent.
According to the complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, the photographer took a picture of Hadid outside an apartment on August 12, 2020. The image was registered with the copyright office.
Four days later, on August 16, 2020, the plaintiff allegedly discovered that Hadid had posted his photograph of her Instagram story to her 59.4 million followers.
Bella Hadid used a picture of herself as an Instagram story and ended up getting sued.
Why? Chosen Figure LLC apparently owned the picture and Bella didn’t license it. IP law is wild. pic.twitter.com/p9rAMgiv9e
— Matt Margolis (@ItsMattsLaw) August 4, 2023
Instagram stories disappear from users’ feeds within 24 hours of posting, but the plaintiff allegedly screenshot the infringing post.
Bloomberg Law reports that the photographer claims that Hadid’s Instagram account is “a part of a popular and lucrative commercial enterprise” which benefited from publishing the photo at issue.
The photographer claims Hadid “received a financial benefit directly” from using the photo and her actions prevented them from profiting from the photos.
“Plaintiff has not licensed Defendant the right to use the Photograph in any manner, nor has Plaintiff assigned any of its exclusive rights in the copyrights to Defendant,” the suit reads.
The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages and all profits Hadid made off the photo. In addition, the photographer has asked for an injunction prohibiting the model from using their work in the future.
Celebrities and Copyright
This is the third time that Bella Hadid has faced legal action for allegedly posting a photographer’s photo without their permission in recent months. In December, the supermodel was hit by two copyright infringements lawsuits in a week.
U.S. copyright law is quite straightforward when it comes to intellectual property and clearly states that the person who “authored” a work is the copyright owner, such as a photographer who takes a picture of a celebrity.
But despite this crystal-clear definition of intellectual property in the eyes of the law, some celebrities still refuse to license images for their social media and adamantly believe they should own the photos taken of them, not the photographers.
Some celebrities have argued that they have the right to photographs of them because they are “joint authors” and because they have cooperated with the photographer and posed for the picture, they have therefore established themselves as a co-creator.
In 2019, Hadid’s sister Gigi Hadid used this argument when she claimed that posting a copyrighted photo of herself on Instagram was “fair use” because she had contributed to the photo by smiling in it.
However, courts generally reject this argument, as did the judge who ruled over Hadid’s case — although the lawsuit did get dismissed for other reasons.
Image credits: Header photo via court documents.