Everyone has had the feeling at least once in their lives that they should be the ones making decisions on various social media networks. This can particularly be true if you have more than 48 million followers on Instagram. We are talking about Gigi Hadid. The famous model thinks that she should be able to post paparazzi photos on her Instagram account because her participation – from posing to choosing what she wears for them – is very key and vital. She also believes that this actually invalidates the ownership claims of the photographer.
An agency called Xclusive-Lee has filed a copyright infringement lawsuit this year that says that Hadid posted one of their images on her Instagram account, and this violates the company’s copyright. In response to this, Hadid’s legal team filed a motion to dismiss in which they said that her posting the image was nowhere unfair because she contributed to the image that was captured in form of a smile and her outfit.
The memorandum of support states that Hadid did not infringe on any copyright. It further says that “Ms. Hadid posed for the camera and thus herself contributed many of the elements that the copyright law seeks to protect.” It also said that Hadid creative directed the photograph and not the photographer who took the shot on the streets of New York City. While the picture has now been deleted from Hadid’s Instagram account, it showed her in a denim outfit standing in a street of New York City and smiling.
Furthermore, the team has also said that since Hadid cropped the picture while posting it, she was only emphasizing on her contribution to the image by showing her pose to her followers and she did not show them the composition that was created by the photographer. It is worth mentioning that usually, photographers have full copyright when they capture a shot. This holds particularly true when the image is taken in public. The lawsuit and the arguments that are being made challenge this long-held assumption.
Speaking to technology website The Verge’s Why’d You Push That Button podcast, Tim Hwang, lawyer and director of Harvard and MIT’s Ethics and Governance of AI Initiative said, “The minute I create something, I have copyrights. I have rights over that content, and so really anything I create, if it is taken by someone else without my permission and copied and shared, I do theoretically have the right under the law to get it taken down, to control it, to protect and constrain that content.”
However, he did point out that “fair use” also means that people can skirt around copyright and this is particularly true if the image has been altered meaningfully. This is also considered fair if the person posting the photo is not making money out of it or doing it for a non-profit entity.
According to Hadid’s team, she is not making money from her Instagram account and has not done anything to derive Xclusive of its profits. The team said, “Ms Hadid merely reposted the photograph to her Instagram page and made no effort to commercially exploit it. Her reposting thus reflected a personal purpose different than the photographer’s purpose in taking the photograph, which was to commercially exploit Ms. Hadid’s popularity.”
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