The lawsuit alleges that the supermodel has posted at least 50 uncredited photographs on her personal Instagram
In a case submitted in federal court on Monday, the 23-year-old supermodel is being sued by the independent photo agency business Xclusive for sharing an October 2018 photo without the photographer’s permission, according to court documents obtained by PEOPLE.
The documents allege that approximately 1.6 million people commented on or liked the photo within the first four days after Hadid posted it, so the company is seeking damages for copyright infringement, as well as any profits derived from the image.
Hadid removed Xclusive’s photo from her Instagram page shortly after sharing it. But the suit also alleges this isn’t the only instance the model has posted unlicensed images. “As of the date of this filing, Hadid’s Instagram account includes at least fifty examples of uncredited photographs of Hadid in public, at press events, or on the runway,” the documents read.
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Xclusive claims Hadid knew she was doing wrong when she posted the uncredited photo and even referenced a similar copyright lawsuit she was involved in. In 2017, photographer Peter Cepeda took a photo of the model, which she later posted on Instagram without his permission. He filed a lawsuit against her the following September and it was later settled outside of court.
“The facts alleged in Cepeda’s [case] are nearly identical to the facts alleged in the present case, including the allegation Hadid copied and posted [the] plaintiff Cepeda’s copyrighted photograph (of Hadid on a public street in New York City) to Hadid’s Instagram and Twitter accounts without license or permission from Cepeda,” the court documents say.
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Days after removing the photo, Hadid clapped back by posting a lengthy Instagram rant that addressed the fact that she (and other celebrities) feel like their privacy is invaded by aggressive paparazzi whenever they leave the house.
“Yesterday I heard from my management that I am being ‘legally pursued’ for my last (now deleted) Instagram post. The photo is by a Paparazzi & is of me on the street outside an event last week. I posed/smiled for the photo because I understand that this is part of my job, this was an appropriate situation for ‘the press’ to attend, and also that this is how paparazzi make a living,” Hadid wrote.
“Most circumstances are not this way, i.e. leaving my apartment, or anytime I feel that my privacy is being unreasonably intruded upon, doing everyday things feel harder to face… these people make money off of us everyday, LEGALLY stalking us day in and day out- for nothing special- for us to walk six feet to a car and six feet into a work building. They drive dangerously close and extremely recklessly; they put the general public in danger in pursuit of a photo,” the supermodel continued.
Hadid also noted that she and many friends have gotten into car accidents as a result of reckless photographers, and have dealt with the emotional toll of constantly being followed.
“To the paparazzi, I understand that this is how you make your living, and I respect that this is something I must accept with my job. But there is a line,” Hadid added. “We are human beings, and sometimes it takes a lot of courage to engage with you because of the resentment I feel for the negative parts of these experiences.”
Despite celebrities’ efforts to limit paparazzi from taking take their photograph, it’s a question of the constitutional right to freedom of speech.
In the United States, photographs that are taken for editorial use in a public place generally enjoy constitutional protection under the First Amendment. So in a public space, a celebrity can have no expectation of privacy. There are some exceptions, though: police crime scenes, public restrooms and secured areas (like government facilities) are not granted protection under the First Amendment.
Other countries, have created laws protecting stars. For example, England created several after Princess Diana famously passed away in 1997 due to a fatal car crash as a result of a reckless paparazzi chase.