Copy cat

Photographer’s battle with copyright infringement


Photo by Peyton Sims

Screenshot of Miranda Sings’ video in which she uses Tiger Times photographer Peyton Sims’ photo without consent.

Story by Peyton Sims, culture editor

Photographers worldwide are trapped in a never ending cycle in which they must endure the pain of copyright infringement. Whether a photo you took on Instagram is reposted without your consent, or you encounter what happened in my personal experience, your photo being used by a celebrity in a YouTube video that they will profit from, work is stolen from creators on a daily basis and is often looked over. 

Copyright is the law that protects a person’s ownership of a creation they’ve made, whether it’s in artistic, musical or literary form. The individual that stole a person’s work can be fined between $200 to $150,000, the infringer could have to pay all attorney and court fees, the Court can issue an injunction to stop the infringing acts, the Court can impound the illegal works or the infringer can be sent to jail.

On Nov. 4, YouTuber Miranda Sings shared a video with her 10.8 million subscribers about her process of becoming a VSCO girl. At 4:53 in the video, she used a photo that I took for a culture story on the Tiger Times Online website. My first reaction was pure excitement that a celebrity I love has used a piece of my work in her video. I went to the description in the hope of seeing my name listed for photo credits, but it was not there. 

Copyright infringement is more common amongst celebrities than one may think. In the past, well known celebrities such as Taylor Swift, Khloe Kardashian, Jennifer Lopez and more have been charged to pay because of occurrences where they stole the paparazzi’s pictures, artwork or they created unoriginal merchandise.  

To many people, a celebrity using your work sounds like a dream, however, if you don’t receive the credit you deserve for your work, that celebrity can make a profit off of something that includes a piece that you created. The majority of people lack education on the rules and reasoning behind copyright, so they continuously remain unaware that they’re breaking the law.

 If you feel that you might be in a circumstance where you need to file a report for copyright infringement, you can complete a form from the U.S. Copyright Office where you have to state the author, title of the work, the type of work, the publication details (if it has been published) and the year of completion.

To all of the photographers out there, never be afraid to stand up for your rights and fight for the credit that you deserve. In today’s society, photos will be obliviously shared across different platforms, their original owners lost along the way. There’s no escaping copyright, but if a photographer keeps their mind focused on taking the perfect photo, they better be prepared to fight for their ownership.