Khloe Kardashian has been slapped with a copyright infringement lawsuit after posting a photo of herself on her Instagram account this fall. According to a new suit filed by Xposure Photos in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, a federal court in Los Angeles, the reality television star has run afoul of federal copyright law by posting a photo of herself “going for a meal at David Grutman’s Miami restaurant, Komodo” without licensing the photo from Xposure, the copyright holder.
The London-based celebrity photo firm alleges that “the photograph was … licensed for limited use to The Daily Mail [and] contained copyright management information at the bottom left, in the form of a copyright notice stating ‘© XPOSUREPHOTOS.COM.’” Xposure claims that after The Daily Mail published the photo, Khloe Kardashian posted the photo on her Instagram account – without obtaining permission from Xposure – but not before “removing the [copyright management information] showing plaintiff as the copyright owner of the image.”
Xposure asserts that “the photograph is highly creative, distinctive, and valuable. Because of Kardashian’s celebrity status, and the photograph’s quality and visual appeal, plaintiff (and the photographer it represents) stood to gain licensing revenue from licensing the photograph. But defendants’ unauthorized use harms the existing and future market for the original photograph.”
Moreover, the complaint notes, “Kardashian’s unauthorized use is commercial in nature. Kardashian uses her Instagram feed for the purposes of promotion—specifically, to promote her own business interests, products, and ventures; to promote and sell the products and services of others; to maintain and increase her visibility and desirability as an endorser, actor, model, and television personality; and to promote her persona itself, since Kardashian’s celebrity status and popularity is central to her ability to sell on-air appearances in both Kardashian-branded and non-Kardashian-branded reality television as well as other entertainment programming."
Xposure argues, "In short, every one of Kardashian’s Instagram posts is fundamentally promoting something to her 67 million followers.”
The final nail in the complaint is Xposure’s declaration that as a sophisticated business entity, Khloe should have known she was infringing someone else’s copyright when she posted the photo. Xposure claims, “At the time that defendants copied and distributed the photograph, they knew or should have known that they did not have authorization or permission to do so.”
As a result, Xposure is claiming that Kardashian is liable for copyright infringement, as well as for violating the integrity of copyright management information by cropping out Xposure’s watermark on the photo before posting it, which gives rise to an addition claim under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. In addition to monetary damages, Xposure is seeking preliminary and permanent injunctive relief, which would bar Kardashian from posting the infringing photo.
Peter Perkowski of Perkowski Legal, counsel of Xposure, told TFL: "We don’t comment on pending litigation."
* The case is Xposure Photos (UK) LTD., v. Khloe Kardashian, 2:17-cv-3088 (C.D. Cal.).