Emily Ratajkowski Settles History-Making Lawsuit Over Paparazzi Photo

Emily Ratajkowski
Credit: Alamy

Emily Ratajkowski, who is raising her baby gender-neutral, has settled a history-making lawsuit over a paparazzi photo of herself. 

The model ‘reached a settlement in principle’ on April 13 with photographer Robert O’Neil, who made a lawsuit against the star after she shared a pap shot he took of her on her Instagram stories – which is automatically deleted after 24 hours.

Ratajkowski reportedly argued that O’Neil lacked valid copyright over the image and that her use of it constituted as fair.

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In a motion for the summary judgement, she reportedly wrote: “The protections afforded by the Copyright Act are only available to a party ‘who has actually formed the picture by putting the persons in position, and arranging the place where the people are to be’.

“This is true even if the plaintiff holds a registered copyright.”

Under copyright law, an image may not qualify for protection if it doesn’t have any ‘artistic merit’ and the court can’t establish that a ‘creative spark’ was needed to ‘produce it’.

If a photo happens to caption something ‘as they are,’ it may not be afforded copyright protection.

Ratajkowski went on to argue that O’Neil simply took a photo when she appeared outside of a Manhattan flower shop.

During the court case, US District Judge Analisa Torres reportedly found that the image in question met ‘extremely low’ standards for originality.

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She went on to reference the model’s alternation on the image, and how she placed the word ‘Mood forever’ over it. Apparently, this may have amounted to a transformative use of the photo, meaning she would be protected from a copyright claim.

Torres reportedly penned: “A reasonable observer could conclude the Instagram Photograph merely showcases Ratajkowski’s clothes, location, and pose at that time – the same purpose, effectively, as the photograph.

“On the other hand, it is possible a reasonable observer could also conclude that, given the flowers covering Ratajkowski’s face and body and the text ‘mood forever,’ the Instagram photograph instead conveyed that Ratajkowski’s ‘mood forever’ was her attempt to hide from the encroaching eyes of the paparazzi – a commentary on the photograph.”

At the time of writing, the terms of Ratajkowski and O’Neil’s deal have yet to be disclosed.

The case has been considered history-making due to the fact it’s considering the impact of an Instagram story post, rather than a picture on the social media platform’s main feed – which is typically the scenario.

Over the past few years, there has been an increase in paparazzi suing celebrities for posting images on their socials without permission.

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Written by Editorial