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Photo of Alessandra Ambrosio Leads to Copyright Lawsuit

Celebrity News Agency Sues Clothing Company For Copyright Infringement

Another copyright infringement lawsuit has been filed because of the allegedly unlicensed, unauthorized use of pictures on Instagram.

In February 2021, Backgrid sued Outdoor Voices for copyright infringement over the defendant’s use of a photograph of model Alessandra Ambrosio. In its lawsuit filed in California, Backgrid also accused Outdoor Voices of infringing on its copyright to two photos of Harry styles.

Copyright law exists to ensure that creative artists retain control over their work. For example, when a photographer takes a picture, they immediately hold the exclusive rights to that picture. Some photographers sell their rights to agencies or grant licenses to their photos for limited or unlimited use. The point being, the party that holds the copyright, has control over the pictures. In Backgrid v. Outdoor Voices, Backgrid claims to own the copyrights to the images in question and that Outdoor Voices used them without a license or other permission.

Who Are The Parties To This Copyright Infringement Lawsuit?

Backgrid is a “celebrity News agency.” It is in the business of purchasing pictures of celebrities from photographers. Backgrid then puts the photographs through a “rigorous editing and quality control process” that results in “visually stunning, editorially appealing” content that is ready to be published. Backgrid then sells, licenses, and distributes the finished images to news and media outlets around the globe.

Outdoor Voices is a clothing business that designs and creates activewear. Its mission is to “get the world moving” by designing clothing that is easy to wear and appropriate for any activity. The fabrics utilize compression technology to flatter the body while remaining comfortable. The company hopes its clothing will encourage low-key workouts and everyday movement.
According to an article in the New Yorker, “The clothes photograph beautifully.”

Backgrid Accuses Outdoor Voices of Infringement

In the complaint’s central allegation, Backgrid accuses Outdoor Voices of violating its copyright by using a photograph of Alessandra Ambrosio without permission or license. The photo in question is one initially taken by photographer Silvio Antonio. The picture is of Ambrosio walking down the street wearing an Outdoor Voices sweatsuit.

Backgrid claims that Outdoor Voices copied the image and put it on its Instagram account on February 5, 2020, without a license. Backgrid learned of the infringement on February 6, 2020. Backgrid also claims that Outdoor Voices violated its copyright when it posted two separate photos of Harry Styles wearing Outdoor Voices clothing back in 2018.

In its complaint, Backgrid accuses Outdoor Voices of using the unlicensed photos specifically to promote their clothing line. Backgrid claims that using the pictures in this way, without a license, undermines Backgrid’s business model by devaluing the images, driving away clients who pay considerable fees to use the images, as well as potential future customers.

It is still too early to determine the outcome of this case, but some issues the court might address include:

  • Does Backgrid have a valid copyright to the pictures in question?
  • Will Outdoor Voices offer a defense to posting the pictures such as the “fair use doctrine?” or assert that Backgrid suffered no damages?
  • Did the defendant alter the photographs at all?
  • Does copyright law protect the photos in question?

Dozens of cases have been filed during the last few years by photographers and creative agencies that find their copyrighted images on celebrity and commercial Instagram feeds- pictures that have not been purchased, licensed, or granted permission for use. Time will tell how this copyright lawsuit turns out and if Backgrid will collect damages from Outdoor Voices.

Call Sanders Law Group, if Someone Violates Your Copyright

Our copyright infringement lawyers can help you collect the damages you are entitled to when your work gets used without permission.

Call Sanders Law Group, today at 888-348-3090 to speak to our copyright infringement lawyers. We represent photographers and creative artists around the globe to ensure you receive payment for your hard work and damages when someone violates your rights.

We offer free copyright infringement consultations so call 888-348-3090 today.


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