2020 is barely one month old and in the news we learn that Kim Kardashian is being sued by professional photographer Saeed Borden for copyright infringement. In a complaint filed on Jan 22, 2020 in the Eastern District Court New York, the plaintiff alleges that on June 14, 2018 at an album listening party in Queens New York for rap artist Nas’ album ‘Nasir’ which was produced by Kanye West, he photographed Kim Kardashian and her husband Kanye West; and subsequently licensed the image to news media outlets. Neither Kardashian nor SKIMS BODY, Inc her company were “licensed or otherwise authorized to reproduce, publicly display, distribute and/or use the photograph.”
However, in October 2018, the defendant posted the image to her Instagram account without seeking prior permission or authorisation. By doing so, Kim Kardashian engaged in “willful, intentional, and purposeful [copyright infringement], in disregard of and indifference” to the photographer’s ownership rights (s201 Copyright Act 1976 – USA). As a result, he is seeking monetary damages, including “the profits, gains or advantages of any kind attributable to the infringement of his photograph.”
This case echo two suits filed in 2019 by pop musicians Justin Bieber and Ariana Grande for posting images of themselves on social media without authorisation or license from the photographers or their agencies. Both of those cases were settled out of court with Ariana Grande reportedly paying $50,000 to settle. It remains to be seen whether Kim Kardashian will cave in and do the same.
Saeed Bolden v. SKIMS BODY, INC. and KIM KARDASHIAN, 2:20-cv-00365 (EDNY)