The Rise of High Profile Photography Infringement
Published on 09.02.15
Last week, rapper and designer Ariza Obey filed a lawsuit against rapper The Game over allegations that the cover of The Game’s latest single, Ryda, used a photograph from his Instagram account.
According to Obey, he posted a photograph entitled Ride or Die, on Instagram in September of 2014. The photograph featured himself and a woman in an embrace pointing guns over each other’s shoulders. Though Obey says the image was taken by a local photographer, the copyright was assigned to him through an agreement with the photographer.
Then in April of 2015, The Game used the image prominently on the cover for his single Ryda. Obey states that the use of his photo was without permission or attribution, prompting him to file the lawsuit for copyright infringement, unauthorized publication of likeness and misappropriation of likeness.
This isn’t the first time that a photo from Instagram ended up on the cover of an album. In 2014, model Stephanie Delgado sued the rapper Mase over the use of her image on the cover of his single Why Can’t We. Though she sought $60,000 for the use of her likeness, the judge only awarded $7,500 after issuing a default judgment.
And then there’s the story of makeup artist Samantha Ravndahl, who,, filed a lawsuit against Lil’ Kim in January 2014 for using a photo of her taken from her Instagram account to promote Lil’ Kim single Dead Gal Walking. According to Ravndahl, the photo was the final image in a makeup tutorial she distributed online to teach her fans how to create the “zombie” look. Ravndahl’s case is ongoing.
For photographers, these cases are all nightmare scenarios. Though infringement of photographs has become disappointingly commonplace, most of it has centered around misuse of content in social media, infringement on personal websites and for small businesses. Larger content users, such as mainstream musicians, large media outlets, publishers and so forth are not supposed to make such mistakes.
Instead, such organizations are supposed to have media professionals to handle obtaining licenses, editors to catch any potential mistakes and whole legal teams to double check the work and prevent any infringements from seeing the light of day.
The truth is though, whether through accident or malice, photography infringement is no longer just a mistake made by small players who don’t know better. When Lil’ Kim and The Game can be sued for misusing photos, pretty much no one is safe.
Though it is unclear how these alleged infringements happened, it drives home the point that photographers can no longer afford to ignore infringement. While social media users and small businesses the target customer for the average photographer, having their work used without permission on an album cover means missing out on a potentially very lucrative pay day.
This means that all photographers need to get more serious about protecting their work when they publish it online. This includes taking proactive steps to protect images including the addition of visual watermarks before uploading, ensuring that timestamps are in place to prove when an original work was uploaded and using image search tools to locate possible infringements.
To that end, Myows can help a great deal. Not only does it provide timestamping of content, to prove when it was uploaded, and content detection services to help protect and track your work online, but it will soon be offering watermarking .
This is important because the face of copyright infringement of photography is slowly changing. No longer is it just a mistake made by Facebook users and small businesses, but it’s becoming a problem that’s impacting major publishers and content creators.
In short, the issue of infringement has been gradually trickling up and is now impacting the most important and most lucrative buyers of images, creating a problem that no photographer can ignore, regardless of whom their target audience is.