Skip to content

Photographer Sues Bieber

Photographer Files Lawsuit Against Justin Bieber for Copyright Infringement

It’s Justin Bieber’s turn to defend himself against a copyright infringement lawsuit. Photographer Robert Barbera filed a lawsuit against Bieber that, according to, accuses the pop star of the “unauthorized reproduction and public display” of a photograph copyrighted and owned by Barbera.

The photo in question is of Bieber and his friend Rich Wilkerson. The picture shows the pals in a car. Bieber posted the picture on his Instagram feed on March 13. Barbera is the photographer who snapped the photo. In documents obtained by E!News, Barbera claims that he
“is the author of the Photograph and has at all times been the sole owner of all right, title, and interest in and to the Photograph, including the copyright thereto.”

The court documents further state that at no time did Bieber have permission, consent, or license to use or publish the photograph.

Bieber is One Of Many Celebrities Accused of Infringement

Bieber is just the latest defendant in a slew of copyright infringement cases filed against celebrities. Several photographers are fed up with stars using pictures they work hard to capture. What other celebrities are being sued for copyright infringement? Jennifer Lopez, Gigi Hadid, and more. Photographers are trying hard to enforce copyright laws that protect them from the unauthorized use of their work.

What Are Some of the Legal Issues in Bieber’s Case?

It is likely that Bieber, as many celebrities do, will defend the posting of the photograph as “fair use.” Fair use is a doctrine that makes it “ok” to use a copyrighted picture for limited purposes. Whether or not a particular photograph and its use falls into this category depends on several factors the court takes into consideration. Typically, an image used for criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research–as examples of activities that may qualify as fair use.

The court will examine:

  • Purpose and character of the use, including whether the use is of a commercial nature
  • Nature of the copyrighted work
  • Amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole
  • Effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work

As stated by the U.S. Copyright Office, “Courts evaluate fair use claims on a case-by-case basis, and the outcome of any given case depends on a fact-specific inquiry.”

Social Media and Blurred Copyright Lines

When it comes to photographs of celebrities and social media, it can be difficult to determine whether an image is used for commercial purpose. Some argue that celebrities’ social media pages are all about commercialization and exposure of their brands. Some use their Instagram pages to earn money directly through endorsements, product placement, and more.

When a celebrity with millions of followers posts a photograph of him or herself, is it for commercial purposes? Does it devalue the image for the photographer who took the picture? These are some issues the court will have to decide.

Contact Us with Questions Regarding Photography and Copyright Violations

If you are a photographer with copyright infringement concerns, you have rights. Your copyrighted photographs should remain under your control, and you should receive compensation for their usage. Call the Sanders Law Group, at 888-348-3090 for a free evaluation of your copyright infringement claim.


Contact Us to Discuss Your Copyright Matter

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.