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Celebrities sued for stealing paparazzi photos… of themselves

In an unusual reversal, socialite Nicky Hilton has been sued by a paparazzi agency for using their photos without permission.

Splash News and Picture Agency has filed a lawsuit against the celebrity with a federal lawsuit, accusing her of using photographs that belong to them on her Twitter account.

The bosses of the agency claim Hilton posted copyrighted shots of herself and her husband, James Rothschild, arriving at an event in New York. They claim Nicky took Splash photos licensed to two outlets and altered the images before reposting them to her Twitter account.

They informed her of the infringement in December 2017 and she appeared to have taken the photo off her Twitter account.

But the agency chiefs are claiming they suffered financially from her actions as the value of the photos decreased once she posted them to her Twitter account, which has 731,000 followers. They also accuse her of using their work to promote some of her fashion collections. They are seeking US$150,000 for each infringement and unspecified damages.

Nicky Hilton is not the first celebrity to steal photos of their own image from the paparazzi.

Celebrity Jessica Simpson was sued by the same company, Splash News and Picture Agency, earlier this year.

She supposedly copied a photograph of her leaving The Bowery Hotel in New York from a Daily Mail page and put it on her Instagram account, which is followed by 4.4 million people. She also supposedly tampered with the photo by digitally removing the watermark of the photo agency.

Another celebrity, Khloe Kardashian, was hit by a copyright infringement lawsuit last year alleging she did the same thing. She supposedly removed a watermark on a paparazzi image of herself and shared it to her millions of followers without permission. This time, the paparazzi victim is UK-based photo agency Xposure Photos, which had licensed the photo to The Daily Mail.

Paparazzi pose a strange problem to celebrities – they make money off the photos they take of the celebrities, while the celebrities do not make a cent. So it is a kind of poetic justice when celebrities start stealing photos from paparazzi, usually when they copy the photos from the website of a news outlet that has licensed the photos.

Still, we do not condone stealing ideas or intellectual property here at PitchMark and we believe Creators should license or pay for photos and not trawl Google Images and use the photos without permission.



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Mark Laudi

Mark Laudi

Press contact Managing Partner (+65) 6223 2249

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