Just because you appear in a photo doesn’t necessarily mean you own any legal rights to the image. Lebron James found that out the hard way and may find himself in a different court to what he is used to. The NBA player is being sued for a sum of $150,000 for infringing the copyright of photographer Steven Mitchell. The photograph is an illustration of the three-time NBA champion dunking a basketball against Miami Heat and was posted on James’s Facebook and Instagram profiles, without the photographer’s permission.
The photographer in question is a freelancer, who requires a fee in order to license his images. Mitchell states that the cropped picture was not licensed in any form and no permission was granted. Therefore, he is asking for the damages which reflect potential profits which may have arisen as a result of the photo being posted on the media outlets. Despite the ongoing lawsuit, LeBron’s Instagram and Facebook page still contains the image in question.
Lawsuits regarding celebrities posting unlicensed pictures of themselves are a regular occurrence, which circulates news headlines. So, one would assume that A-listers in particular would aim to avoid making use of infringing photos, as eagle-eyed photographers are likely to keep track, with aims of suing the celebrity. Copyright has been infringed and celebrities should comply with the legal requirements, so should either seek permission and pay their fee or not make use of the said images on their social media outlets.
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