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WWD: "Online Celeb Photos and Legal Risks for Brands"
WWD published an article on Monday, December 9th detailing how photographers and photo agencies are currently fighting against the unpermitted use of copyrighted imagery. Copyright holders can sue for statutory damages of up to $150,000 per infringement. Most of these incidents occur on social media where it is easy to share images without authorization.
The biggest case currently happening is with Backgrid suing iHeartMedia Inc. for up to $9.75 million in statutory damages for unauthorized use of images. WWD spoke with advertising, entertainment, and photography agency owners including Exposure's founder Stacy Fischer. She says, “When Instagram first started, many agents looked at it as an exciting place to share imagery and for photographers to get their work out to a broader group of people. Now that it’s being used for commerce, it’s a very slippery slope. When photographers shoot editorials, a lot of the times they put their own money and resources into it. When brands are using their Instagrams as a brand platform, it’s really become the new advertising for brands,” she said. “What we see keep happening is just because a brand’s shirt is used in an editorial shoot, the brands feel that they have the right to repost that image. But the photographers own the copyrights.”
Fischer added, “What brands don’t realize is that we sign contracts with the magazines. Essentially, by a brand reposting during the embargo or the exclusivity period, they’re putting us in breach of contract. And the publisher could come after us for that breach,” Fischer said. “It’s a very, very tricky situation.”
WWD states: Her approach is to try to resolve issues as amicably as possible, and nothing has gone to court thus far. There are conversations about breaches, though. “As agents, we’re not really looking for this to be a difficult situation with the brands. We’re just trying to help everybody understand that a photographer owns the copyrights and you can’t just take an image because a product, piece of clothing or jewelry that is in the editorial is from a brand.”
Read the full article on WWD or through the screenshots in this post.