A Manhattan photographer has sued model Emily Ratajkowski for posting a copyright-protected photo of herself online.
Lensman Robert O’Neil claims in his Manhattan federal court lawsuit that the 28-year-old bombshell included a photo he’d taken of her in her Instagram story without getting permission.
O’Neil’s original photo shows the stunner carrying a bouquet of flowers — which obscure her face — down the street while wearing an oversize blazer and tennis shoes.
Ratajkowski posted the photo to her social media, captioning the image “mood forever” — though the image itself disappeared because it was posted as an Instagram story that vanishes after 24 hours.
The photographer is suing for unspecified monetary damages, citing copyright infringement.
“Each Infringement is an exact copy of the entirety of Opinaldo’s original image that was directly copied and stored by Ratajkowski on the Instagram account,” the photographer says.
“The photographs were willfully and volitionally posted to the account by Ratajkowski.”
Rinaldo says the model has financially benefited from posting his photos because they increased traffic to her account, which in turn increased her brand recognition and promotion of her business ventures, reports Law 360.
The photographer also says that Ratajkowski’s use of the photographs, if widespread, would harm his potential market for the images, in court papers filed at Manhattan Federal Court.
Rinaldo is seeking actual damages and disgorgement of any profits Ratajkowski received as a result of the alleged infringement, as well as an order barring the model from infringing any of Opinaldo’s photos, attorney fees, and litigation costs.
“You’d think that given the symbiotic (or is it parasitic?) relationship between celebrities and paparazzi, there could be a truce in the troll wars,” copyright lawyer Aaron Moss writes on Twitter.
“Photographers (sic) get access to celebs, in turn, celebs would get to post the photos on their personal social media. What am I missing?”
Ratajkowski’s Legal Woes With Paparazzi
This isn’t the first time Rajakowski has been sued for posting a paparazzo’s image of herself. Photographer Robert O’Neil sued the model in October 2019, alleging she stole his photo of her walking down a New York City street with a bouquet of flowers.
Ratajkowski contended that O’Neil brought the suit against her with the intention of “extorting a settlement” and argued O’Neil’s counsel at the time, Richard Liebowitz, was a known “copyright troll” who had filed a blitz of intellectual property litigation during the pandemic.
The parties did eventually reach a settlement.
A host of celebrities have been on the receiving end of various photographers’ copyright lawsuits over the use of images of themselves, including an April 2017 complaint against reality television personality Khloe Kardashian and an October 2019 suit against singer Justin Bieber. Both of those suits have since been settled.