Yahoo Sued for Use of Celebrity Photos

X17, Inc. filed a copyright infringement complaint against Yahoo, Inc. on April 17, alleging that the company published and distributed photographs without permission. The complaint also names Verizon Communications as a codefendant because it acquired Yahoo in 2017. This case is being held in the San Franciso Division of the California Northern District Court before Judge Thomas S. Hixson.

According to the complaint, a license agreement between X17 and Yahoo, active from January 11, 2012, to December 9, 2018, allowed Yahoo to use several of the plaintiff’s photographs. After the contract’s termination, Yahoo allegedly continued to publish the photos and send them to its various content partners, like Time, Inc., People, U.S. Weekly, and Entertainment Tonight. X17 claims that it reached out several times via email to remind Yahoo that the images were not to be distributed. The company offered to renew the license agreement, but it never received a response from Yahoo.
X17 is a Hollywood-based paparazzi agency founded in 2006 providing content to global media outlets. The company posts hundreds of celebrity photographs to its website every day. As a result of Yahoo’s alleged violations, X17 seeks an award for damages and an order barring the defendants from further using the infringing photographs.

The case parallels a recent action against AOL, arguing that the continuing use of automobile photos after their license term expired was copyright infringement.