Miley Cyrus has settled a copyright lawsuit a month after she was sued for posting a photo of herself to a paparazzi on Instagram, according to court documents filed Wednesday (October 18) and obtained by Billboard.
In the original lawsuit, filed Sept. 12 in federal court in Los Angeles, the photographer Robert Barbera claimed that Cyrus reposted his image of her in 2020 without a license or permission to do so. In the snap, the “Midnight Sky” singer is seen waving to fans as she walks out of a building.
In her complaint, Barbera claimed that Cyrus had a “tremendous presence” due to her millions of Instagram followers, and that posting the image “crippled if not destroyed” her ability to make money by authorizing it. .
According to court documents, the lawsuit was later dismissed “with prejudice,” meaning Barbera cannot refile the same claim in this court.
The lawsuit against Cyrus is not the first that Barbera has filed. The New York-based photographer previously filed copyright complaints against Ariana Grande in May 2019 and January 2020, and Justin Bieber in October 2019, although both cases were later settled on confidential terms. Earlier this summer, he filed another lawsuit against Dua Lipa which, at press time, is still pending in court.
While these cases may seem unfair, the law is on the side of photographers like Barbera, as they own the copyright to the images they take – and using these photos without a license constitutes infringement. Merely appearing in an image does not give a celebrity co-ownership of it, or the right to repost it for free.
Had the court found that Cyrus infringed Barbera’s copyright, the singer could have faced damages of up to $150,000. For this reason, most celebrities accused of forgery by photographers choose to settle, likely for a lesser sum, to avoid the time and expense of pursuing litigation. Although the terms of these settlement agreements are almost always private, for a single photo the amounts are likely in the tens of thousands of dollars.