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Football player sues paparazzi for extortion, invasion of privacy

Paparazzi generally feel that one of the prices of fame is putting up with, well...paparazzi. Fame tends to come with a reduced right to privacy, since everything you do when you're famous is of public interest.

However, there are limits -- or should be -- according to one star football player who is fighting back against what many see as "taking things a bit too far." In specific, he's talking about the recent tendency of paparazzi to use long-distance cameras and other invasive tools to snap a quick photo and a quicker payday when they license that photo out for distribution just about everywhere -- and then turn around and try to grab money off the subject of that photo if he or she uses it too.

Yes, stars are being sued for sharing photos of themselves on their own Instagram pages and other social media. The photographers sell the photos they grab of the celebrities on the street (or in their backyards) under a licensed copyright to the tabloids. The celebrities aren't compensated for the use of their likeness. However, if the celebrities copy the photos for themselves, the photographers then turn around and send a demand letter -- often for thousands of dollars -- for the copyright violation. Stars like Jessica Simpson and others have fallen victim in recent months.

Odell Beckham, Jr. is fighting back in a Louisiana federal court asking for a judgment against the paparazzi agency Splash.

A photographer used a telephoto lens camera to grab a shot of the football star as he recovered in his own home after a serious ankle injury on the field. The photo quickly went viral and was licensed for sharing on social media. Three months later, however, Beckham shared the photo on his own social media page and got hit with a $40,000 copyright lawsuit.

Beckham is asking the court to declare that he isn't in violation of any copyright, which would effectively dismiss this suit and others like it. He's also firing back with his own personal injury claim, alleging that the photographer publicly disclosed private facts and appropriated his likeness, both invasion of privacy torts.

Given the impact these actions are likely to have on future actions -- and potentially the media in general -- they're going to be watched closely in court.

Source: The Hollywood Reporter, "NFL Star Alleges in Lawsuit That Paparazzi Agency Is Extorting Him and Other Celebrities," Eriq Gardner, Feb. 01, 2018

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