Image credit - people.com
A lawsuit was recently filed against super-model Gigi Hadid by a photography agency, Xclusive, for posting a paparazzi photograph of herself on her Instagram page without the photographer’s permission. The post got over a million likes on Instagram before it was removed by the model.
The agency claimed that the image was posted without a license or permission from the copyright holder, i.e. the photographer, even though it was Gigi’s image. It was contended that, although Gigi Hadid is the subject of the photograph, she does not own any rights to the image. The image, according to the agency, is exclusively owned by it, and as such, any unauthorised use will constitute a copyright infringement.
The agency is seeking monetary damages, as well as an injunction from the courts, prohibiting Gigi from further infringement of its copyrights by copying and republishing the subject photograph without consent or in any other manner.
Such lawsuits against public figures have recently sparked certain debates. Particularly, the discussion around a celebrity’s right to control how his or her image is exploited. Image rights (or the right of publicity) is a concept that is yet to be fully grasped in foreign jurisdictions, especially in the United States. It would appear that in some states in the United States a person’s likeness cannot be used to advertise or sell goods or services without the person’s consent. Other states’ laws provide that such consent is not required in connection with any news, public affairs, sports broadcast or political campaign.
There is no specific law governing image rights in Nigeria. Section 37 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) guarantees the right to privacy of citizens. However, this provision does not adequately deal with the protection of image rights and as such, there is no adequate protection for public figures or celebrities who wish to prevent the exploitation of their images by the public. We hope that this area of law can be developed through case law and the enactment of relevant statutes.
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Adepetun Caxton-Martins Agbor & Segun
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