Emily Ratajkowski Violated Photographer’s Copyright With Instagram Post, Judge Rules

Paparazzo Robert O’Neil sued the model and actress over a photo she posted to Instagram — of herself

Emily Ratajkowski
Getty Images

Paparazzo Robert O’Neil has won his copyright infringement lawsuit against model Emily Ratajkowski after she posted a photo he took of her to Instagram without his permission.

According to court documents obtained by TheWrap, a New York federal judge ruled that Ratajkowski infringed upon O’Neil’s copyright by posting the image of herself, denying her argument that she “transformed” the photo by adding a caption. 

However, the judge also ruled that Ratajkowski’s holding company, Emrata Holdings, LLC, should not have been named as a defendant in the lawsuit and could therefore seek attorneys’ fees from O’Neil.

The lawsuit dates back to 2019, when Ratajkowski posted the photo in question — a shot of her hiding behind a bouquet of flowers while walking the streets of Manhattan, which she captioned “Mood Forever” — to her Instagram Story. O’Neil sued Ratajkowski for copyright infringement, claiming she didn’t license the photo nor get his permission to post it to her account. Since the photo was posted to her Instagram Story, it was only live for 24 hours before it vanished, but O’Neil said he wanted $150,000 plus whatever profits Ratajkowski made from his work.

Ratajkowski is not the first celebrity targeted by O’Neil for posting his work without his approval. The photographer previously sued model Gigi Hadid for posting one of his photos — a shot of Hadid’s boyfriend, singer Zayn Malik — without receiving his permission or properly crediting him.

Ratajkowski’s representatives did not immediately respond to The Wrap’s request for a comment, nor did O’Neil’s agency, Splash News.