NFL Star Alleges in Lawsuit That Paparazzi Agency Is Extorting Him and Other Celebrities

Odell Beckham, Jr. says he was hit with a $40,000 demand for sharing an image of himself on Instagram.
Joshua Blanchard/Getty Images for NYLON Media
Odell Beckham Jr. and Amber Rose

One star in the National Football League has had enough with the paparazzi and is bringing a bold lawsuit seeking redress.

In a complaint filed Thursday in Louisiana federal court, New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr. seeks declaratory relief against Splash News and Picture Agency over what he characterizes as a "pervasive and coercive practice of photographing celebrities without their knowledge, selling those celebrity photographs to gossip websites and publications for profit, and then demanding payment from the celebrity for purported copyright infringement."

The action against Splash News comes a few days after the photo agency sued Jessica Simpson for sharing an image of herself on Instagram. Celebrities getting in trouble for posting their own images has become a trend. Also see a copyright lawsuit against Khloe Kardashian last year.

Beckham points to the Simpson suit and recounts his own experience.

In October, the NFL star suffered a season-ending ankle injury that required a hospital stay. About a week after the game, he returned home when a photographer named Miles Diggs shot an image of him. Beckham alleges that a telephoto lens was used through a gate at his New Jersey residence.

"There is nothing creative or distinctive about the point-and-shoot, ambush-style Photos, except that they feature Beckham," states his complaint.

Diggs then sold or licensed the photo to Splash, according to the complaint, which then registered a copyright titled "NY Giant Star Odell Beckham Jr. seen for the First time after Horrific Ankle Injury."

Splash then licensed the photo to TMZ and Daily Mail.

"The only reason that the Photos have any value is because they depict Beckham," continues the complaint. "Yet, Beckham received no compensation from Diggs or Splash."

That might not be so outrageous, but after Beckham shared the image on Instagram, he says Splash sent him a demand letter over an alleged violation of copyright. 

"In short, Splash attempted to extort $40,000 from Beckham for allegedly posting a picture of himself on his own social media account when that picture was licensed to websites that made it available for 'sharing' across social media platforms, all almost three months after the alleged infringement occurred," states the complaint. "These circumstances make clear that Splash was not satisfied with merely invading Beckham's privacy and exploiting his tragic injury and celebrity status, it also saw fit to attempt to capitalize on his personal financial success and squeeze an exorbitant amount of money out of him directly."

Beckham is now seeking a declaratory judgment that he hasn't violated copyright. Given other stars allegedly being extorted over this same thing, the case could be closely watched in the entertainment industry.

Beckham is not stopping there, as he's also asserting a privacy tort of intrusion on solitude because of the alleged use of a telescopic lens. 

Perhaps on the more legally controversial side, given it has the potential of impacting the media, Beckham is claiming a tort of public disclosure of private facts plus appropriation of likeness. He is represented by attorneys at Stone Pigman and Davillier Law Group.