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The plaintiff in this copyright lawsuit is a professional photographer who has taken several photographs of Indiana Pacers’ Lance Stephenson, including photographs of Stephenson winning the 2008 Public School Athletic League as a high-schooler with Abraham Lincoln High School in Coney Island, New York.

Stephenson allegedly posted several of the plaintiff’s photographs on his Instagram account, stephensonlance, without authorization from the plaintiff. Most of the postings were apparently posted in Stephenson’s “Instagram Stories,” which disappear after 24 hours.

Lance Stephenson isn’t the first public figure to be sued for posting unowned photos of themself on social media. Being the subject of a photograph does not grant you copyright ownership of that photograph. Copyright ownership is held by the photographer, who can thus control how the photograph is publicly displayed. These types of lawsuits are typically settled out-of-court, but obviously not in this instance, although the Complaint (below) makes no mention of attempted settlement negotiations. Nevertheless, settlement usually follows shortly after a complaint is filed, although usually at a higher settlement amount.

Stay tuned for updates.

Reid v. Stephenson

Case Number: 1:22-cv-00205-JRS-DLP
File Date: January 27, 2022
Plaintiff: Damion Reid
Plaintiff Counsel: Craig B. Sanders of Sanders Law Group
Defendant: Lance Stephenson
Cause: Direct Copyright Infringement
Court: Southern District of Indiana
Judge: James R. Sweeney II
Referred To: Doris L. Pryor