Photographer Says Supermodel Gigi Hadid Bogarted His Work

A screenshot from the Instagram account of model Gigi Hadid. The photographer suing Hadid for copyright infringement included a similar image as an exhibit to his complaint. (Courthouse News via Instagram)

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (CN) — A freelance photographer from Queens has sued supermodel Gigi Hadid, claiming she posted his copyrighted work on Instagram for her 35 million followers, after cutting off his credit for it.

Peter Cepeda, of Ozone Park, sued Hadid and her modeling agency, IMG Worldwide, on Tuesday in a federal copyright complaint.

Cepeda says he snapped the photo of Hadid from in July 2016 as she headed to a photo shoot in Manhattan. The image, shot from behind, shows the back of her head in curlers over what appears to be a sports jacket with the Adidas logo and name, with “as” crossed out and the letter “h” added at the beginning, spelling the model’s last name.

Cepeda says the photo was licensed to The Daily Mail, then republished on TMZ. So far, so good. But he says Hadid and/or IMG posted it on her Instagram account after cutting off the copyright watermark and his photo credit.

A screenshot from the Instagram account of model Gigi Hadid. On Sept. 5, a photographer brought a federal copyright complaint against Hadid in Virginia. (Courthouse News via Instagram)

Hadid’s Instagram account is the 39th most-followed in the world, according to the complaint. She also has 6 million followers on Twitter. Cepeda seeks damages for copyright infringement, contributory infringement, and removal and alteration of copyright protection, plus an injunction, and profits from the work.

Hadid is also in hot water with her Chinese audience for a video clip taken during her birthday party in February. In it, she holds a cookie in the shape of the Buddha, squinting and smiling to imitate his face.

The video outraged some followers in China, sparking charges of racism at the time. A recent announcement by Victoria’s Secret that Hadid would walk the runway for its Shanghai fashion show later this year reignited the on the Chinese internet.

A screenshot of this post on Gigi Hadid by celebrity-gossip website TMZ is included as an exhibit to the copyright complaint filed against the model. (Courthouse News via TMZ)

Hadid issued an apology on the Chinese social media platform Weibo, saying: “I have the utmost respect and love for the people of China and cherish the incredible memories I have made while visiting in the past. I have learned to be very careful of how my actions can come off or be portrayed and I’m hopeful you’ll accept my apology.”

Hadid’s fanbase is one of the biggest in the fashion industry. Cepeda’s picture of the young model was shared with her more than 30 million Instagram followers and 6 million Twitter followers. The photo was still posted on Hadid’s Instagram at press time.

Cepeda is represented by David Deal, of Crozet, Virginia.

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