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Paparazzi Problems

Jul 20, 2021

Author: Phil Leonard

It is normally the paparazzi that is in trouble with celebrities, whether for invasion of privacy or otherwise.

This time, and not for the first time, it is the celebrity that is in trouble.

Dua Lipa was “papped” in an airport queue wearing a big fluffy hat. On discovering the photograph, Dua Lipa posted that image to her Instagram page with the big news that she will “…be living under big fluffy hats until further notice".

Who cares (you might ask)?

Apart from her 67million Instagram followers, Integral Images care because it owns the copyright in the photograph. It has now sued Dua Lipa in the US for copyright infringement.

Although it may seem odd that a person does not own the rights in a photograph in which he, she or they are depicted, the basic nature of copyright is that (i) it exists automatically on creation of the work and (ii) it is owned by the author or creator of that work.

The author of a photograph is the photographer.

In this particular case, we assume that Integral Images owns the copyright in the photograph because of contractual terms whereby all intellectual property created by the photographer is automatically assigned to Integral Images.

And in a world where photographs of celebrities are now ten-a-penny, and so less valuable, why pursue expensive legal proceedings against super-wealthy celebrities such as Dua Lipa (and others that include Khloe Kardashian, 50 Cent, Ariana Grande and Justin Bieber)?

The key is the number of Instagram followers (and the fact that damages awards are more generous in the US, as compared to the courts of England and Wales).

The value of the photograph is in posting that image on Instagram, or other online platforms, from which the celebrity generates significant advertising income. The photographer, therefore, will look to quantify its loss by reference to the profits made by the celebrity in using its image.

For advice on copyright issues, contact our expert IP team at https://www.waterfront.law/contact-us.