Ariana Grande has become the target of a copyright lawsuit after posting photos of herself on Instagram.
Sounds odd, right? Well, let us explain.
The two images, taken by New York-based paparazzi photographer Robert Barbera, show the singer leaving a building while carrying a bag with the word “Sweetener” printed on it. For those not up to speed on all things Grande, that’s the name of the album she released in 2018 — the same year that the photos were taken by Barbera, and posted by Grande.
Grande, who has more than 155 million followers on Instagram, added the caption “happy sweetener day” to the post (below), which showed the two images stitched together.
Upon learning of the Instagram entry — it scored more than 3.3 million likes before being removed from the photo-sharing site — Barbera decided he didn’t much like how Grande had used his images without his permission. And so he launched a lawsuit.
The photographer is asking for up to $25,000 for each of the images, or the profits generated by the post — whichever is greater.
“Barbera is the author of the photographs and has at all times been the sole owner of all right, title and interest in and to the photographs, including the copyright thereto,” says the lawsuit, which was filed this week in the New York Southern District Court.
It goes on to say that Grande infringed Barbera’s copyright in the images by reproducing and publicly displaying the shots on her Instagram account.
The legal action comes a couple of months after the American singer-songwriter and her team issued a contract demanding that professional photographers at her concerts hand over full copyright of their images. It also said they would need to seek written permission from Grande’s team if they wished to use the images for any purpose, including editorial pieces. It was seen as an attempt by Grande to prevent the photos from being used on unauthorized merchandise and to give her greater control over her portrayal in the media. The contract isn’t wildly different from the one drawn up by Taylor Swift in 2015, though Swift was forced to relax its terms following an outcry from professional photographers.
Grande isn’t the first celebrity to be accused of copyright infringement by professional photographers. 50 Cent, Jennifer Lopez, Jessica Simpson, and Khloe Kardashian, for example, have all been the target of lawsuits after being accused of wrongfully posting photos online.