Gigi Hadid - How can this be?

Home > Blog > Gigi Hadid - How can this be?
Gigi Hadid - How can this be?

Apr 17, 2019

Gigi Hadid Photo

Our third minisode for "The Creative Influencer" podcast is available for download on iTunes, Spotify, and premier platforms everywhere. In minisodes, we answer questions that our listeners have emailed Jon. In this minisode, Jon answers a question about a lawsuit filed against Gigi Hadid regarding copyright infringement.


A transcript of the episode follows:

Welcome to the minisode. Today we have an e-mail from Ashley with the subject line: "How can this be?" The email reads:

Subject: How can this be?

Hey Creative Influencer Podcast,

I heard that Gigi Hadid was sued for posting a photo of herself on IG that some paparazzi took. How can this be? It was her own photo. She'll win, won't she?


P.S. Oh, by the way, I love the podcast.

Thank you, Ashley.

A bit of background. On October 11, 2018 Gigi Hadid did post a photo of herself on Instagram. At the time, Gigi had over 44 million followers. (she now has almost 48 million). The photo got 1.6 million likes.

But here's the thing. The photo wasn't a selfie, and it wasn't taken by a photographer that she hired. The photo was taken by a paparazzi and a company, Xclusive-Lee, obtained a copyright on the photo.

Back to Ashley's question, there are two issues at play. The first is the right of publicity and the second is copyright infringement. The right of publicity protects Gigi's name, image, and likeness. She can post pictures of herself all day long, but that's not the real issue. The problem for Gigi is copyright. She was sued for copyright infringement. She can't use copywritten photos, even if they are of her, without permission of the photographer or the person who owns the copyright.

According to the complaint filed with the Court, the photo was taken on October 11 and uploaded on October 12. The copyright application was filed a few days later.

Fast forward to early March, the US Supreme Court just ruled that you can't sue for copyright infringement until a copyright has been registered. An application isn't enough; the copyright office has to process it and issue a registration.

According to the website for the copyright office, that hasn't happened. Which means that Gigi may have dodged a bullet.

So stay tuned. A lot of issues have to be worked through. The copyright action may go away.

Gigi Hadid Social Media Post

Thanks for the email, Ashley, and continue listening.

The Creative Influencer is a weekly podcast where we discuss all things creative with an emphasis on Influencers. The podcast is hosted by Jon Pfeiffer, an entertainment attorney in Santa Monica, California. Jon interviews influencers, creatives, and the professionals who work with them.

Sign Up for Pfeiffer Law's Monthly Newsletter

Contact Jon and his team today.