Journal of Intellectual Property Law


This Note analyzes the harms of “copyright trolling” and proposes defenses and solutions, such as implied licenses for celebrities or new business tactics for photographers. Importantly, this Note will not address First Amendment issues regarding the right to publicity and press. While the notion of freedom of the press is essential to our democracy, it will not be examined in this Note because most celebrities would not argue that paparazzi should be banished as a profes-sion. This is because paparazzi help celebrities gauge their level of fame: the more paparazzi that desire a celebrity’s picture, the more famous she becomes, result-ing in more money for the celebrity. Therefore, the Note will instead focus on copyright laws and how the Copyright Act of 1976 can better operate in the current media-based culture. Additionally, this Note will also propose defenses for future cases in which celebrities might try and fight back against copyright trolls/

This Note is organized in a way that first provides context on how this issue arose. The Background Section of this Note discusses the cultural fascination regarding celebrities and the historical rise of paparazzi. It also explores the re-cent phenomenon of “copyright trolling” and Gigi Hadid’s recently settled case. This section concludes by examining the historical context of the Copyright Act of 1976 and the relevant sections applicable to copyright infringement. The Anal-ysis Section of this Note discusses potential defenses, some of which have been posed before the court and others of which have not. Along with drawbacks and counter-arguments to the aforementioned defenses, this Note will also propose possible amendments to the Copyright Act of 1976. Finally, the Note will con-clude with a look into the future and a new business model both celebrities and paparazzi could benefit from.