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Nicki Minaj Sued for Posting Photos of Herself to Instagram

Jan. 21, 2020, 9:23 PM

Splash News & Picture Agency accused rapper Nicki Minaj of copyright infringement in Los Angeles federal court for posting its photographs of her to her Instagram account without permission.

The Jan. 19 complaint says Minaj’s Instagram posts made the photos “immediately available to Minaj’s 91 million followers” who would “otherwise be interested in viewing licensed versions of the Photographs in the magazines and newspapers that are plaintiff’s customers.”

Splash says it owns the copyrights to seven photos taken of Minaj at public appearances. Minaj allegedly posted the photographs to her Instagram account in 2017 and 2018, and Splash says it notified her representatives of the alleged infringement shortly after.

“Because of the subject’s celebrity status, and the Photographs’ quality and visual appeal, plaintiff (and the photographer it represents) stood to gain additional revenue from licensing the Photographs,” the complaint says. “But defendants’ unauthorized use harms the existing and future market for the original Photographs.”

Splash also called Minaj’s use of the pictures “expressly commercial,” noting that Minaj uses her Instagram account to promote her business interests.

Cause of Action: Copyright infringement.

Relief: Injunctive relief, damages, attorneys’ fees.

Response: Universal Music Group, the parent company of Minaj’s record label, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Attorneys: Perkowski Legal PC represents Splash.

The case is Splash News & Picture Agency, LLC v. Maraj, C.D. Cal., No. 2:20-cv-00551, complaint filed 1/19/20.

To contact the reporter on this story: Blake Brittain in Washington at bbrittain@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Rob Tricchinelli at rtricchinelli@bloomberglaw.com

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