What is the copyright law surrounding Ellen's famous Oscars group selfie?

Philip Bump at The Wire looks into the possible copyright law interpretations surrounding the famous Ellen DeGeneres Oscar selfie. Ellen gave it away to the AP. But "does Ellen have the right to give it away? Who owns that picture?"

Notable Replies

  1. Try again. American copyright laws say If I let someone use my camera to take a photo that they compose and create, it's theirs. The composition and shutter is the thing, not the subject or camera ownership.

  2. Everyone who attends the Academy Awards has already given their permission to be photographed for still and video media. Everyone attending the show, especially those nominated for the top-tier of awards (acting, directing, producing and best picture) all understand the marketing purpose of the show - how much of a difference even being nominated makes to the box office receipts for their respective films.

    It is very likely that Degeneres' use of the Samsung product (not even her personal phone, she posted to Twitter from the show to her own account using an iPhone) to capture the "selfie" was part of a planned cross-promotional activity for Samsung. Most everyone involved in the photo likely knew exactly what was going to happen and they probably discussed it in advance during rehearsal.

  3. seyo says:

    Not really. If you hand someone your camera and ask someone to take a photo for you, the tacit agreement is that you are merely providing the service of pressing the button. Hundreds of millions of tourists every year know this, plenty of precedent there.

  4. Again, unless Cooper was contracted directly with Samsung, he has very good standing to own the image.

    Have any of you arguing that Cooper has no rights to this actually read the article? There's, like, actual lawyers commenting on various points of actual, like, law. Here's part of it just for you:

    Could Samsung actually own the photo?

    Probably not, according to Kirschner. Let's say there was a contract between the Academy or DeGeneres and the phone company. "If Samsung had an agreement with Ellen that they would exclusively own the rights to the photo, that may not then apply to Bradley," he said. So if Samsung tried to enforce an agreement with Ellen (which, again, may not exist), Cooper could again muck up the works, since he's exempt from that agreement, having not, you know, agreed to it. Samsung can't say "we have copyright over all pictures taken on this device."

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