Marc Jacobs has been hit with another lawsuit. Already in the midst of a copyright and trademark infringement lawsuit with Nirvana, LLC over its use of the band’s famed smiley face graphic for its grunge redux collection, New York-based Marc Jacobs is being sued by photographer Christopher Peterson for posting one of his photos to its Instagram without licensing the photo or receiving permission from the professional photographer.
According to the complaint that he filed against the New York-based brand in New York federal court on Sunday, Christopher Peterson claims that he took a photo of supermodel Bella Hadid – in a Marc Jacobs sweatshirt – and her boyfriend The Weeknd in New York in January, only to have Marc Jacobs post the copyright-protected image to its Instagram account the very next day.
Peterson asserts that while he licensed the photo to the Daily Mail, which “ran an article that featured the photograph,” he did not license it to Marc Jacobs. Yet, he claims that the LVMH-owned brand posted the image on its heavily-followed Instagram account “to promote Marc Jacobs clothing,” namely, the sweatshirt that Hadid was wearing, which was on sale at the time, and was sure to “crop off the watermark [stating, ‘Christopher Peterson’].”
As a result, Peterson has lodged a copyright infringement claim against Marc Jacobs for using the photo without his authorization and a separate Digital Millennium Copyright Act violation claim in connection with the brand’s “falsification, alteration and/or removal of said copyright management information,” which he alleges that “Marc Jacobs [carried out] intentionally, knowingly and with the intent to induce, enable, facilitate, or conceal their infringement of [Peterson’s] copyright in the photograph.”
The photographer is seeking actual damages and any “profits, gains or advantages of any kind attributable to [Marc Jacobs’] infringement” of the photo, as well as its “falsification, removal and/or alteration of copyright management information,” or alternatively, statutory damages of up to $150,000 for the allegedly infringement, and up to $25,000 “for each instance of false copyright management information and/or removal or alteration of copyright management information.”
The case is the latest in a growing list of copyright infringement lawsuits centering on brands – and individuals, such as Gigi Hadid – posting others’ images on their social media accounts without the copyright holder’s authorization.
A rep for Marc Jacobs was not immediately available for comment.
*The case is Christopher Peterson v. Marc Jacobs International, 1:19-cv-06121 (SDNY).