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Of all the creative industries — films, television, music, books, etc. — our money is on photography as being the most copyright aggressive these days. Hundreds of lawsuits have been filed since the beginning of the year alleging infringement of images. A good example of the rapacious litigation on this front came on Tuesday in a lawsuit against Khloe Kardashian.
The plaintiff is Xposure Photos, a U.K.-based photo agency. Most stars don’t like the paparazzi, but according to this lawsuit filed in California, Kardashian may have taken to an image of herself snapped by Manual Munoz and then licensed to The Daily Mail. The image shows Kardashian and one of her sisters going for a meal at a Miami restaurant.
“Plaintiff never licensed the Photograph to defendants,” states the complaint, referring to Kardashian and 10 anonymous John Does. (Is her social media team that big?) “Nevertheless, defendants have used, and continue to use, the Photograph without authorization or permission from plaintiff to do so. Specifically, Kardashian copied the Photograph and distributed it on Instagram on September 14, 2016. The copy of the Photograph that Kardashian distributed on Instagram had been altered to remove the CMI [copyright management information] showing plaintiff as the copyright owner of the image.”
Xposure is now demanding an injunction, profits arising from the act of alleged infringement, statutory damages up to $25,000 and more.
Maybe not the biggest demand, but a nuisance that nevertheless makes the act of taking and posting a selfie seem less risky, no?
Then again, these cases often don’t last long in court.
For example, Steven Ferdman on March 10 sued Sony Pictures after his photo of actor Tom Holland in a Spider-Man costume appeared on the official Instagram and Twitter accounts related to Spider-Man Homecoming as well as Holland’s own Instagram page. After demanding up to $150,000 for each infringement, Ferdman filed a notice of voluntary dismissal with prejudice (possibly after a settlement) earlier this month.
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