- Gigi Hadid was sued earlier this year over a paparazzi photo she posted to Instagram that she was accused of not having the image rights to.
- The lawsuit was dismissed on Thursday because the paparazzi agency that took the photo hadn’t received a copyright registration by the time it had filed the lawsuit against Hadid, according to court documents viewed by Business Insider.
- Hadid’s argument that the photo was an example of “fair use” had the potential to shake up the legality of celebrities and fan accounts using the Instagram reposting feature.
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A lawsuit involving the model Gigi Hadid and whether she had the right to post a paparazzi photo to her Instagram has been thrown out.
The copyright-infringement suit against Hadid was dismissed on Thursday, according to court documents viewed by Business Insider. The New York district judge dismissed the case because the plaintiff — a paparazzi agency called Xclusive-Lee — failed to secure the official copyright registration for the photo by the time it filed the lawsuit.
The ruling was based on a US Supreme Court case that was decided in March, WWD reported. In that case, the Supreme Court ruled a copyright registration officially goes into effect when the federal Copyright Office grants the registration.
So although the paparazzi agency behind Hadid’s photo had filed their copyright registration with the copyright office by the time the lawsuit was filed, the copyright registration had yet to be officially secured.
If the case had not been thrown out, the lawsuit had the potential to shake up the social-media community surrounding celebrities and the paparazzi who photograph them.
The paparazzi agency had alleged that Hadid didn’t have the right to one of its photos that she had posted on her Instagram, which has 48.7 million followers. The lawsuit alleged that Hadid committed copyright infringement by posting the picture.
In turn, Hadid’s lawyers argued that the model had the rights to the photo because she contributed to it: She posed and smiled for the paparazzi, chose her outfit that day, and cropped the picture before posting it. This constituted a “fair use” defense, her lawyers said, which wouldn’t require her to own the image copyright or license it.
“We are pleased that the Court granted our motion to dismiss this meritless case,” Hadid’s lawyers wrote in a statement to Business Insider. “The Court’s decision recognized this case for what it was — an effort to extract a settlement from Ms. Hadid with little regard for the basic requirements of copyright law.”
Pictures of high-profile celebrities, singers, and actors are highly coveted and can rake in hundreds of thousands of dollars for well-placed photographers. These photos are often shared on Instagram and other platforms by celebrities and fan accounts, who themselves draw thousands of followers who want to see their favorite personalities’ every move and outfit.
Making coveted celebrity photos “fair use,” as Hadid’s lawyers argued, would open the field for who can repost certain photos and could breathe new light into popular fan accounts that have thus far been limited in what they can post because of copyright claims.
It’s the reason why Kim Kardashian said in February that she hired her own personal photographer to take photos of her that she has the full rights to, and that her fans could repost on social media without fear of receiving a takedown notice or getting hit with a lawsuit.
Hadid had been sued before over suspected copyright infringement after sharing a paparazzi photo, and she isn’t the only one: Ariana Grande, Khloé Kardashian, 50 Cent, and Jennifer Lopez have all been sued after posting paparazzi photos on social media.