The Model, Gigi Hadid has found herself in the middle of yet another copyright infringement suit for allegedly posting a copyright-protected photograph of herself to her Instagram account. The case, filed on Monday in a Federal district court was brought by the New York based company Xclusive Lee Inc.
Hadid’s Instagram account is followed by more than “forty-three million people worldwide” and Xclusive argue that Hadid ‘copied and posted the Copyrighted Photograph to her Instagram account without “license or permission.”
The image in dispute was captured of the model on “October 11, 2018,” by one of its photographers in New York city and according to court documents and evidence submitted by Xclusive “around “1.6 million people’” had “commented on or liked the photo” within “four days of the Model posting the image to her Instagram account.”
The complaint goes onto maintain that the ‘act of infringement was willful and intentional’ and claims that the model “had first-hand knowledge that copying and posting photographs, of herself or other subject matters, to her Instagram or other social media accounts that she did not properly license or otherwise receive permission from the copyright holder constituted copyright infringement.”
In particular, the company Xclusive call attention to an earlier copyright infringement suit, the facts of which Xclusive say are “nearly identical” to the facts of the present complaint - where in 2017 Hadid was named as a defendant in a copyright infringement suit against photographer Peter Cepeda, who took legal action against Hadid for posting a photograph of herself to her Instagram and Twitter accounts that was taken of Hadid on a public street in New York City without license or permission from the photographer Cepeda.
Xclusive go onto further allege that Hadid’s Instagram account currently has “at least 50 examples of uncredited photographs of Hadid in public, at press events, or on the runway.”
Hadid in the past has taken issue with the way that photographers, and in particular the way the paparazzi work, accusing them of “legally stalking” her and in a long post to her Instagram account, last October she stated that “for someone to sue me for a photo I found on Twitter (with no photographer’s name on the image) … is absurd.”
But is this course of legal action really as absurd as Hadid thinks?
The present case can be seen as part of a growing trend with regard to photographers taking a legal stand against social media influencers posting their images to Instagram and other online platforms without permission or credit. In 2017, The U.K. photo agency ‘Xposure Photos’ sued celebrity Khloe Kardashian for copyright infringement, after she allegedly posted an unlicensed photo of herself to her Instagram without permission for ‘making the image immediately available to her nearly 67 million followers.’ (The case was later settled outside of court).
Most copyright infringement cases of this type are commonly settled out of court, before litigation commences. However brands and influencers may still find themselves in hot water if they post an image to their social media accounts without permission, or the very least crediting the copyright owner.
Relating to the current suit, Xclusive is seeking the maximum amount of statutory damages for copyright infringement and an account of any “gains, profits, and advantages’ derived by the infringement”.