Jennifer Hudson sued for $175,000 after posting a photo of herself to Instagram

May 21, 2020

Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.

Jennifer Hudson sued for $175,000 after posting a photo of herself to Instagram

May 21, 2020

Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.

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Many celebrities have been sued for posting a photo of themselves without permission. Now it’s Jennifer Hudson’s turn. The famous actress and singer posted a photo of herself to Instagram, and the photographer who shot it is now, of course, asking for damages.

The photographer who took the shot is Fernando Ramales from New York. He photographed Hudson in late 2019, and a news site later bought the photo for the story from 21 December 2019, according to Page Six. On the last day of December, the star shared the photo to her Instagram with the caption: “Me walking out of 2019 into 2020 like ….just as grateful as I can be ! Thank u Lord for all you’ve done for me ! I hope u all find your joy in the new year !” Interestingly enough, the photo is still on Instagram at the time of writing this.

https://www.instagram.com/p/B6wbuW_psOF/

Ramales filed a lawsuit against Hudson in Manhattan federal court, seeking $175,000 damages plus attorneys’ fees. Ramales’ lawyer, Richard Liebowitz, claims that “Ms. Hudson and her company did not get the proper permissions to use the photograph.” He added that they also cropped out the photographer’s watermark before posting the photo to Instagram. “You simply can’t do that,” he concluded.

As I mentioned, we’ve already heard of similar cases many times. Jennifer Lopez, LeBron James, Bella Hadid, Kim Kardashian, and Emily Ratajkowski are only some of the stars who were sued for exactly the same thing. But it looks like others’ examples aren’t enough for the celebrities and their representatives to ask for permission or purchase the photo before sharing it on social media.

[via FStoppers; image credits: David Torcivia]

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Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.

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53 responses to “Jennifer Hudson sued for $175,000 after posting a photo of herself to Instagram”

  1. Melissa L Chance Avatar
    Melissa L Chance

    I’m confused. How can she be sued ?

    1. Ilka Antonova Avatar
      Ilka Antonova

      Melissa L Chance just read the article and you will understand ?

    2. Jonathan Mac Giolla Phádraig Avatar
      Jonathan Mac Giolla Phádraig

      Melissa L Chance did you actually read the article?

    3. Justin Smith Avatar
      Justin Smith

      Melissa L Chance it’s not her property

    4. David Paul Avatar
      David Paul

      Posting with credit is one thing. But she scrubbed his watermark off. That is blatant disrespect.

      1. Frank Avatar
        Frank

        It may be disrespectful, but it is far from illegal or an issue in fair use.

    5. Robert Hicks Avatar
      Robert Hicks

      David Paul Credit is nothing more than telling people where you stole it. The owner of the photo gets to decide who can use it and in exchange for what

      1. Frank Avatar
        Frank

        No. Fair use is still the law, regardless of how you like that.

    6. Richie Vela Avatar
      Richie Vela

      Melissa L Chance
      ignorance = confusion

  2. Marco Peixoto Avatar
    Marco Peixoto

    I find it funny that a Photo no one gave a F**** before because it was a simple snapshot ANYONE can take with the crappiest cellphone today, all of a sudden is worth 175k for “damages”

    Then the so called Photographers wonder why people hate them…

    1. Daniel P Sousa Avatar
      Daniel P Sousa

      You don’t think she makes money off of Instagram?

    2. Kenth Hagström Avatar
      Kenth Hagström

      It is worth money if the person using it is making a lot of money from it. Instagram is a viable source for generating that, so the photo should be considered as advertisement.

    3. Marco Peixoto Avatar
      Marco Peixoto

      I kinda get she is a Public Figure (I think) but its also her on the image. The Photo without her is worthless… we already had this conversation here.

      So to who does her own Image belongs? To her or to anyone that takes a snapshot of her?

    4. Marco Peixoto Avatar
      Marco Peixoto

      Oh and the Snaptcher is a Paparazzi… so a person that chases others gets pissed… ahaha… lovely World we live in :)

    5. Andy Dench Avatar
      Andy Dench

      Marco Peixoto you have no expectation of privacy in public and of course you have no rights to a photo because you’re in it. If they don’t want to be in photos they have to stay out off public view, it’s just one of the crappy parts of being famous. The photographer owns the photo 100% unless he otherwise sold the rights to the photo. If I paint a picture of you do you own it because you’re in it? Lmao

      1. Richard Doktor Avatar
        Richard Doktor

        you have no expectation of privacy in public

        Apart from the fact that this is a very, very deviant view of the world, please note that this is only the case in the USA.
        Everywhere else in the world such a statement would give someone a wet rag in the face.

        and of course you have no rights to a photo because you’re in it.

        See above. This may be the case in the USA, but the rest of the world is much further along and respects people.

        If they don’t want to be in photos they have to stay out off public view,

        Yeah, right. And women who don’t want to get raped shouldn’t wear mini-skirts, right?
        That statement is a wonderful indicator of your mental level.

        It’s just one of the crappy parts of being famous.

        Famous or not, it often doesn’t make a difference anymore. If it was a public event, then it might be right, but there is no automatic right to disturb “famous people” in their private life.

        The photographer owns the photo 100% unless he otherwise sold the rights to the photo.

        This is correct in a general sense, but only up to the point where the image leaves his hard drive. From then on, he must obtain the publication rights of the people who are shown in the photo (except for photos where people are only an accessory to the image and not the main subject).
        Here, too, the USA lags far behind the modern world. Everywhere else the rights of people depicted are respected.

        If I paint a picture of you do you own it because you’re in it? Lmao

        Because a painting is the same as a photograph…
        It’s terrible when someone has such a simple mind and wants to express himself on important issues.

        1. Arthur_P_Dent Avatar
          Arthur_P_Dent

          I prefer to see the United States as the more enlightened one here. If you are in public, you have no right to privacy, and as long as it’s not being used as part of an advertisement, the person in the picture has no ownership.

          1. Richard Doktor Avatar
            Richard Doktor

            Sorry, no. What you are saying is the straight opposit of “enlightened”, because this behaviour disresepcts people. The privacy of a person is always and everywhere valid, completely detached from the locality. This is a big misunderstanding in the US.
            Where do you get a stupid idea like that? Being in public has exactly zero to do with the privacy of each individual.
            How disgusting it would be if you applied that to other things as well:
            Just because you’re naked doesn’t give you the right not to get raped?
            Just because you are fat, you have no right to eat fast food?
            Just because you are unknowing, you have no right to study (that would exclude 100% of humanity right after birth)
            Just because you can’t fly yourself, you don’t have the right to get a pilot’s license?
            Find other absurd examples …

            And the second misunderstanding is also not the way of publication or the ownership rights, but the publication itself. It is about the publication rights that every person has.
            If you take a photo of someone and you look at it on your computer at home, everything is OK. But as soon as you put it on the net, sell it, exhibit it in a gallery or however it gets _into public circulation_, then you have to get the rights from the person in question, because he or she probably has no interest in being dragged into this public.

            And this is nowadays true in every civilized country that knows and protects the rights of a person. And the USA is quite obviously _not_ one of them.

          2. Arthur_P_Dent Avatar
            Arthur_P_Dent

            Your absurd examples are rife with logical fallacy. Of course nobody believes that a nude person is inviting rape or that fat people do not have a right to eat what they choose. The point was that if someone is out in public, they have no expectation of privacy. And the person taking the picture is the one who owns it, not the subject. And as long as it’s not being used for an advertisement, the photographer can publish it as he/she sees fit.

          3. Richard Doktor Avatar
            Richard Doktor

            Your absurd examples are rife with logical fallacy.

            Just as absurd as saying that you have no privacy just because you are in public.

            Of course nobody believes that a nude person is inviting rape or that fat people do not have a right to eat what they choose.

            Well, so there you go and those are not even basic rights.

            The point was that if someone is out in public, they have no expectation of privacy.

            Why? So why is it suddenly different for you? The right of privacy is a fundamental right, that can’t be suddenly abolished by a place.

            And the person taking the picture is the one who owns it, not the subject.

            Nobody denies that as I already mentioned.

            And as long as it’s not being used for an advertisement, the photographer can publish it as he/she sees fit.

            No, read my previous post again. As long as someone _doesn’t_ publish a photo, he/she can do what he/she wants with it.
            It does not matter under which aspect it is published. As soon as the person is the main motive and you put it into public circulation, you need the rights of this person. Period.
            This right to one’s own image is now respected by (almost) every country in the world. Except the USA. And it’s about time that this changes.
            If you are even capable of respecting the rights of others.

          4. Arthur_P_Dent Avatar
            Arthur_P_Dent

            It is a well-established legal principle that if you are out in public, a place where no expectation of privacy exists because anybody can see you, then anybody can take your photo and do with it almost as they damn well please.

            Let’s use the Jennifer Hudson picture as a good example. The person who took her picture can post it to their own website, sell it to a news organization as editorial content or even sell it as art. All perfectly legal. The First Amendment (https://www.law.cornell.edu/constitution/first_amendment just in case you may not be aware of it) guarantee of free expression also includes by its very nature a guarantee of publication, because what would be the point of free expression if you can’t share it with others?

            But if he were to sell it to an advertising company to use as illustration in an advertisement, that would be illegal without the proper releases from Hudson as it would fall into a “false light” category, because the advertisement would imply she endorses a product or, in some cases, that she has particular ailments or character issues.

            In this case, Hudson is the one misappropriating the image because she seems to think that just because it is a picture of her. But even though it is her image, the copyright belongs to the photographer, and he has a right to sue her for misappropriating it and denying him compensation for her use of it.

            In your Utopia, people like Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Capa, Weegee, Margaret Bourke-White and others would be hardened criminals because they all took pictures of people out in public and published them. I suppose you would support the person who yelled at me in my role as a journalist for taking a picture of their burning house because they claimed I was violating their privacy. (For the record, I was standing in a public right-of-way and the fire was in plain sight to anyone who was not legally blind.) I’ve also taken pictures of people who were making court appearances (again a public place for a proceeding that was on public record so there was no right to privacy whatsoever for their images) who were not happy with it. One even had the nerve to swear at me and flip me off in front of the judge (not a really good idea). But you would suggest that person has a right to block publication of their image in the name of almighty “privacy,” even though their only concern was that people would know they were a criminal suspect.

            Photography is not a crime. Stealing a photographer’s work is a crime.

          5. Richard Doktor Avatar
            Richard Doktor

            I don’t want to repeat myself over and over again. You obviously can’t understand, that your sight of things only applys to the US.
            If you ever to this in Europe, good luck with your “statements” infront of a GDPR court.
            -eoc-

          6. Arthur_P_Dent Avatar
            Arthur_P_Dent

            This case was in the United States.

    6. Robert Hicks Avatar
      Robert Hicks

      Marco Peixoto She found it useful enough to steal from a small business

    7. Marco Peixoto Avatar
      Marco Peixoto

      Im sorry my respect for anyone that uses Paparazzi tactics or is one is below ZERO.

      Also take a photo of me on a Public place and if I find it i will use it wherever I want, go ahead and sue me, good luck with that.

      1. Frank Nazario Avatar
        Frank Nazario

        sorry she was in a private property in an event FAR from being public property … so your statement does not hold water. and yeah of course you can use it… if it has my water mark on it and you remove it… u have a problem. You where in a public place you modified a properly registered artistic piece and used it to your advantage … yeah ill take u to court.

        1. Frank Avatar
          Frank

          In cases of fair use the watermark is irrelevant. Yes, I understand the personal affront that removing it is, however, it wouldn’t make any difference in being sued. I believe Hudson meets the threshold for fair use.

          Regardless of any value to you, I don’t see any money changing hands here unless the Court awards her legal costs. The suit was filed by Richard Liebowitz, a copyright troll. He sues for $175,000 but will settle for just less than the expected legal fees to defend the action. He doesn’t want to go to trial.

          Liebowitz has been sanctioned by more Courts and Districts than most other lawyers combined.

    8. Michael Dexter Avatar
      Michael Dexter

      Marco Peixoto quite simple. Her image belongs to her. Her image, as displayed in any photographs captured by me belongs to me. She must obtain permission to use any image of her created by me.

    9. Michael Dexter Avatar
      Michael Dexter

      Marco Peixoto unfortunately, the photographer does not capture images for your respect. And as far as taking pictures of you in public…I’ve gotta feeling you need not concern yourself ‘bout that.

    10. Frank Nazario Avatar
      Frank Nazario

      it is very simple… how much money she is making by promoting where/what/when she was doing when photographed. It also adds to the fact that she removed intentionally or not the water mark of the person that created that photo of her… crappy cellphone or not… plus yeah you are right even though subjective… the price is just a reference the judge will dictate how much at the end of the day.

  3. Millard Trammell Avatar
    Millard Trammell

    I don’t know…don’t use others work.

    1. Marco Peixoto Avatar
      Marco Peixoto

      Did you draw it?

      ;)

  4. Cristiano Diniz da Silva Avatar
    Cristiano Diniz da Silva

    That is an interesting case. For one she should have gave a shout out to the photographer and that was blunt wrong but, this is the weird part that makes this hard to win, that sue is the same as claiming that she does own the right of her own image. Either way the article doesn’t give enough context to help understand if it was an event with all prepared for the photographers or something else. Best luck for him.

    1. Robert Hicks Avatar
      Robert Hicks

      Cristiano Diniz da Silva Nope has nothing to do with her ‘image: it’s flat out a celebrity stealing from a small business. A “shout out” doesn’t pay anyone’s rent. You don’t get to decide to help yourself to the property of someone else and then decide how much they should have charged you for it

      1. Frank Avatar
        Frank

        No. She is making fair use of her image in a non-commercial manner.

    2. Cristiano Diniz da Silva Avatar
      Cristiano Diniz da Silva

      Robert Hicks at this moment you are using a modified image from the Pope. Was that taken by you?

    3. Robert Hicks Avatar
      Robert Hicks

      Cristiano Diniz da Silva It’s non-commercial you ignorant tool and parody is completely fair game. So your gotcha from you GED in copyright is about as limp as you are but thanks for playing, you will not be on next week and you’d probably injure yourself trying to open the home game

    4. Cristiano Diniz da Silva Avatar
      Cristiano Diniz da Silva

      Robert Hicks sure everything is fair game. Good luck. You will need it.

    5. Robert Hicks Avatar
      Robert Hicks

      Cristiano Diniz da Silva See and you still don’t understand the laws. I mean it’s not like they’re hidden in a basement guarded by a jaguar. I mean thirty seconds Googling copyright to avoid embarrassing your self in an international forum

    6. Cristiano Diniz da Silva Avatar
      Cristiano Diniz da Silva

      Robert Hicks sure you are 100% correct. Good luck still.

  5. Eric Pearce Avatar
    Eric Pearce

    The lawyer is Richard Liebowitz, ha ha ha. This guy has been called a copyright troll by US judges. He has been fined and kicked out of counts multiple times. Even if he had a case, he will screw it up.

    1. Frank Avatar
      Frank

      An internet troll. He sends out Cease and Desist notices and then sues for just less than the cost of defending the suit. Most settle instead of paying the legal fees to defend themselves.

      Liebowitz has been sanctioned from several courts and denied access to practice in several Districts. (He was just sanctioned by the Southern District of Illinois because he filed a suit there that belonged in the Northern District of Illinois where he was banned.)

  6. Z von Dienes-Oehm Avatar
    Z von Dienes-Oehm

    More info needed. A news site bought the photo so depends on what the rights are at the point of sale. Depending on the contract terms, it’s the news site’s property and they can issue a cease and desist. This case will get thrown out.

  7. John Gulliver Avatar
    John Gulliver

    Copyright, depending in the ‘contract’ she or her agents had. If none, in some countries, she might sue the photographer for using her image.

    1. Nermin Huskić Avatar
      Nermin Huskić

      John Gulliver in Europe she would win 100%

      1. Chainsaw Charlie Avatar
        Chainsaw Charlie

        No, she wouldn’t. Europe respects the copyright.

    2. Chainsaw Charlie Avatar
      Chainsaw Charlie

      It’s not her image. it’s an image of her.

  8. Michael Beckerman Avatar
    Michael Beckerman

    The person that clicks the shutter on a camera owns the copyright to the image until the point that they choose to transfer, assign or sell that copyright to someone else by way of agreement. Yes, you have rights that go alone with protecting the standing and reputation of your own likeness and no one is allowed to present that likeness or image to the world in a way that is demeaning or disparaging (and if they do, you can take corrective action against them through the courts), but that doesn’t change the fact that copyright rests with the creator of the image. Until they relinquish those rights (preferably in writing by way of a contractual agreement) THEY get to decide what happens to and what is done with those images – not you.

    1. Frank Avatar
      Frank

      Almost. The creator of the image owns the work they created. However, Hudson still owns her person. While an owner may sell his photo, that photo may not be commercialized without compensating the person / people in it.

      The exceptions for others to use the work are covered under fair use. These include photographs of news events, reviews and critical responses, non-profit use, the amount of the work used, and any transformation of the work.

      As this is a news event and Hudson is using it for a news report, I do believe she has a strong argument for fair use. Removing any watermark is irrelevant.

      Most likely this is just another photo troll. They probably also sent her a settlement offer for $10,000, which is half what she would pay in legal fees to defend the suit.

  9. Paul Pedersen Avatar
    Paul Pedersen

    Perhaps she should counter sue because he didn’t have permission to use her likeness.

  10. Alexander Galvis Quintero Avatar
    Alexander Galvis Quintero

    Everything about this sounds quite stupid, doesn’t it? ?

  11. Frank Avatar
    Frank

    Fair use.

  12. David Avatar
    David

    Sometimes a photog gets a “HEADACHE” by usurping other’s right to privacy.