Miley Cyrus has settled a copyright lawsuit a month after she was sued for posting a paparazzi photo of herself to Instagram, according to court documents filed Wednesday (Oct. 18) and obtained by Billboard.
In the original complaint, filed on Sept. 12 in Los Angeles federal court, photographer Robert Barbera claimed that Cyrus reposted his 2020 image of her without a license or permission to do so. In the snap, the “Midnight Sky” singer is seen waving to fans as she exits a building.
In his complaint, Barbera claimed Cyrus has an “immense presence” due to her millions of followers on Instagram, and that posting the image “crippled if not destroyed” his ability to make money licensing it.
According to court documents, the lawsuit was subsequently dismissed “with prejudice,” meaning Barbera cannot refile the same claim again in that court.
The lawsuit against Cyrus is not the first 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, though both cases were later settled on confidential terms. Earlier this summer, he filed another lawsuit against Dua Lipa that at the time of publication is still pending in court.
Though these cases may seem unfair, the law is on the side of photographers like Barbera, as they own the copyrights to the images that they take — and using those photos without a license constitutes infringement. Simply appearing in an image does not give a celebrity co-ownership of it, nor does it give them a right to repost it for free.
Had the court found that Cyrus had infringed Barbera’s copyright, the singer could have faced damages totaling as much as $150,000. For that reason, most celebrities accused of infringement by photographers opt to settle out of court, likely for a smaller sum, in order to avoid the time and expense that come with continued litigation. Though the terms of these settlement deals are nearly always private, for a single photo, amounts likely range in the tens of thousands of dollars.