Rihanna’s Fenty Corp. is being sued over a photo of Gigi Hadid. Eva’s Photography, Inc. asserts in a new lawsuit that Rihanna’s fashion venture, which she launched this year with luxury powerhouse LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, shared a photo of Gigi Hadid wearing a corseted dark denim top from the brand’s debut drop on its Instagram story. The problem, according to the New York-based professional photography company? Fenty Corp. didn’t have permission to do so.
Eva’s asserts in its complaint, which was filed in a New York federal court on October 1, it “has at all times been the sole owner of all right, title and interest in and to the photograph” of Hadid pictured on a New York City street last month, including the copyright in the photo.
With such rights in mind, and in light of its alleged failure to “license the photograph from [Eva’s] for its Instagram Story” and its failure to get Eva’s “permission or consent to publish the photo,” the agency claims that Fenty Corp. engaged in the “unauthorized reproduction and public display of a copyrighted photograph of fashion model Gigi Hadid” by posting the photograph on its Instagram Story “as tool to promote its brand.”
Since copyright law gives the creator of a work of art, such as photo – or the holder of the copyright, should it be assigned to an different entity – the exclusive right to control the use and distribution of the copyright-protected work, Fenty Corp. ran afoul of the law here, per Eva’s.image via complaint
To be exact, by “reproducing and publicly displaying the photograph,” one that Eva’s appears to have licensed to the Daily Mail prior to Fenty posting it on its Instagram Story,” counsel for Eva’s asserts in the complaint that Fenty infringed its copyright in the photo – including its exclusive right to reproduce, publicly display, distribute and/or use the photo, and/or authorize others to do the same – in a “willful, intentional, and purposeful” manner and “in disregard of and indifference to [Eva’s] rights” as the copyright holder.
As such, Eva’s is seeking monetary damages and any profits that Fenty Corp. earned as a result of its alleged infringement. Alternatively, Eva’s asserts that it is “entitled to statutory damages up to $150,000 per work infringed for [Fenty’s] willful infringement of the photo.”
While this is the first suit filed against Fenty Corp. for posting others’ images to its Instagram account, Hadid, who is not named in this suit, has been named in three other similar lawsuits, one of which is currently pending in New York federal court. More than that, photos of Gigi Hadid and also of her sister-slash-fellow model Bella have given rise to at least a half a dozen copyright infringement suits in recent years, largely due to the fact that the supermodel sisters prove to be particularly influential figures amongst fashion brands and consumers, alike.
UPDATED (November 19, 2019): Almost three months after the case was filed, Fenty Corp. has agreed to settle in lieu of filing a formal answer or motion to dismiss in response. According to the docket for the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, counsel for Eva’s Photography filed a Notice of Settlement, indicating that the parties have managed to come to a swift resolution to the case out of court.
*The case is Eva’s Photography, Inc. v. Fenty Corp., 1:19-cv-09120 (S.D.N.Y.).