The Celebrity Picture Story, Part Deux: Who Holds Copyright?
September 5, 2014 | 10:24 am
By Joanna Cabot
So, the thorny issue of photo copyrights is making headlines in the celebrity world again, and no, I don’t mean Bradley Cooper’s famous Oscar shot, or the monkey selfie this time.
I’m sure many of you have seem the iCloud hacking story, where a data security breach led to the hacking of, among other things, personal photographs of several female celebrities. The interesting little wrinkle on this is that at least one site is claiming that a celebrity tried—unsuccessfully—to get the photographs removed using the excuse of copyright infringement.
Jennifer Lawrence, as TMZ reports, got a reply to her takedown request which invoked the Bradley Cooper rule—namely, that since the pictures were clearly not ‘selfies’ then Ms. Lawrence herself did not press the shutter button, therefore did not own the copyright, therefore could not issue a takedown request.
As a further wrinkle, at least one celebrity has claimed she was underage when the photographs of her were taken. Those pictures did get taken down. So I don’t know what the letter of the law might be here. Ms. Lawrence wins on the moral argument, but it’s possible that on the legal side, she may not be able to get them taken down as copyright infringement. She may be able to get them taken down for other reasons—the underage photographs clearly got taken down so the website in question wouldn’t get hassled for hosting child porn. But copyright? I don’t know.