If you take a photo of someone, that photo doesn’t really belong to you. Instead, what you’re doing is borrowing that person’s likeness. Which means that not only can that person use the image without paying you, but they should be safe from being sued for it – and in fact, they or they should be paid just to be there.
This is the world according to Calvin Broadus, aka Snoop Dogg. The hip-hop superstar was commenting on the lawsuit filed against fellow rapper Nas (Nasir bin Olu Dara Jones) by photographer Al Pereira.
Nas infringed Pereira’s copyright when he uploaded a famous photo of himself to his Instagram account, photographed with rappers 2Pac (Tupac Shakur, now deceased) and Redman (Reginald Noble) taken by the photographer in 1993.
“How can a kid**ker sue Nas for a photo that he in it?” Snoop barked in a video posted to WorldStar Hip Hop (below).
“When you take a picture of a**ger, that picture isn’t yours – it’s a simple look-alike situation. You’re borrowing my likeness. How are you going to sue Nas for a photo he in? We need new laws to help us as artists, man, because there’s a bunch of motherfuckers selling pictures with my face it and i don’t understand shit. Because they took the picture. Can anyone help me with this? Just a basic question.”
Indeed, this is a fundamental question, Mr. Dogg, and we can actually help you. Unless otherwise agreed, copyright in a photograph belongs to the photographer who took it. And when it comes to lookalike rights, when someone is in a public space, no permission or consent to lookalike is required by law.
Of course, Instagram users also provided their own “help”.
“Possession is nine tenths of the law.. they own the image or file they own.. stop confusing young people,” said i.am.aze. “If so, barbers should also be able to take legal action for haircuts that appear in photos of celebrities,” the barber artist added.
Others had a better understanding of the facts. “Your argument comes down to saying that when you rap to a beat, those words aren’t yours,” gadgetsjon noted. “Did you invent English? No. You are only “borrowing the language”. Doesn’t make any sense, does it? Perhaps de.nnis8324 had the best advice when he simply said, “Take your own pictures then.” (In that case, we can direct you to the best cameras for Instagram.)
Sorry, Snoop. Maybe, as you noted with the title of your sixth album, sometimes you just have to pay the price to be the boss.
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