Gigi Hadid Thinks Smiling in a Picture Gives Her the Copyright on It

Something a lot of people don’t realize is that if someone takes a picture of you, the person who took the picture, not the subject of the picture, owns the copyright to that picture. It makes a certain amount of sense. This is the case whether you do a photoshoot with a photographer or someone just takes your picture on the street. What that means is that paparazzi own the photos they take of celebrities and they’re particularly litigious defending that copyright because they do a lot of hard work stalking those celebrities. You know, like Princess Diana.

Gigi Hadid is being sued by Xclusive-Lee, Inc., the copyright holders on a photo taken by a paparazzo that she posted on her Instagram. According to The Verge, Hadid claims she has the right to use it because she smiled in it, which is an interesting interpretation of the law.

The memorandum of support says Hadid didn’t infringe on any copyright “because Ms. Hadid posed for the camera and thus herself contributed many of the elements that the copyright law seeks to protect.” She, the memorandum states, creative directed the photograph, not the photographer who captured her on the streets of New York City.

We can’t show you the image because we don’t want to get sued by a paparazzo, we’re not fools. But here are some pictures from Gigi’s Instagram that I’m hoping she actually does own.

Hadid’s claim is certainly novel, and I’m not a lawyer but I am a know-it-all so I can tell you it’s almost certainly not going to work. Accepting Hadid’s argument that smiling and cropping a photo gives her any sort of rights or ownership to it would fundamentally change our copyright law forever, and that’s really not going to happen.

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments