Home » Copyright/Intellectual Property, Photography/Images » Katy Perry Sued for Copyright Infringement Over Hillary Clinton Costume Photo

Katy Perry Sued for Copyright Infringement Over Hillary Clinton Costume Photo

5 November 2019

From Billboard:

The ghost of Halloween past has come back to haunt Katy Perry in the form of a new lawsuit.

Celebrity photo agency Backgrid USA has sued the pop star for copyright infringement over an Oct. 29, 2016, Instagram post that features a photo of Perry in a Hillary Clinton Halloween costume, documents filed with the U.S. District Court in California on Tuesday show. Because Perry failed to license the Backgrid-owned photo before sharing it with her 80 million Instagram followers, Backgrid alleges, she hurt “the existing and future market for the original Photograph,” resulting in “substantial economic damage” to the agency.

“The Photograph is creative, distinctive, and valuable,” the complaint reads. “Because of the subject’s celebrity status, and the Photograph’s quality and visual appeal, BackGrid (and the photographer it represents) stood to gain additional revenue from licensing the Photograph.” Backgrid further alleges that Perry failed to license the photo even after the agency corresponded with her through her reps numerous times between July 2017 and October 2019.

. . . .

“Backgrid is an entertainment news agency that works closely with celebrities. As such, it is never Backgrid’s objective to litigate against celebrities,” said Backgrid attorney Joanna Ardalan.

. . . .

There is precedent for Backgrid’s suit. In recent years, a host of celebrities including Jennifer Lopez, 50 Cent, Jessica Simpson and Khloé Kardashian have been sued for posting unlicensed paparazzi photos to their social media accounts.

Link to the rest at Billboard

PG understands the copyright law underpinning the lawsuit and also understands that many celebrities like to see their pictures in various traditional and internet publications to hopefully help keep them relevant for some members of the general public.

However, PG can also understand why a celebrity who uses a photo in which she is the only subject of interest can feel a bit put out when the photog sues for damages.

Copyright/Intellectual Property, Photography/Images

6 Comments to “Katy Perry Sued for Copyright Infringement Over Hillary Clinton Costume Photo”

  1. Every time one of these pops up (and they seem to be coming more and more frequently) – I’m afraid I have to side with the “celebrity.”

    A thought: Perhaps the appearance of a celebrity should be defined as “creative property.” They (most, anyway) do put a lot of work, time, and money into creating that appearance – shouldn’t they own that appearance and be able to sue paparazzi and others that create barely “derived works” from that appearance?

    Noting that the architects of a distinctive building can, and have, sued other artists for creating works involving those buildings without permission, I don’t think it’s all that much of a stretch.

  2. “The Photograph is creative, distinctive, and valuable,” the complaint reads. “Because of the subject’s celebrity status, and the Photograph’s quality and visual appeal, BackGrid (and the photographer it represents) stood to gain additional revenue from licensing the Photograph.”

    Backgrid’s complaint in itself raises an interesting legal point in Perry’s favor. If Perry had no celebrity status, would the photo have substantial value to Backgrid? Is it Perry’s celebrity status that gives the photo value? To whom does that celebrity status belong? IMO if it belongs to anybody, it belongs to Perry.

    Backgrid made an admission against interest in this complaint. Should not Perry get compensation for Backgrid’s unlicensed appropriation of her celebrity status? I know that is not the current state of the law, but law evolves. This may be an evolutionary moment.

  3. I find this ridiculous. I would think suing a celebrity would not be good for a company “who works closely with celebrities”. How about you get written consent to take the picture in the first place.

  4. I looked for the photo of Katy/Hilary and found this article in the Express. It says Katy Perry is a fan of Hilary Clinton’s: https://www.express.co.uk/celebrity-news/726634/Katy-Perry-Hillary-Clinton-Halloween-costume-Kate-Hudson-Orlando-Bloom

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