Who snapped up the copyright to Ellen DeGeneres’ Oscar ‘selfie’?

The photograph has been ‘re-tweeted’ at least 3.3 million times.  Chat show host Ellen DeGeneres’ ‘selfie’ featuring more stars than the Oscar winning film Gravity definitely increased interest in the Oscars this year.  However, it has been reported that DeGeneres may not actually own the copyright of the photograph and instead actor Bradley Cooper and phone company Samsung may have a claim.

This is a result of US copyright law which states that the person who pushes the camera shutter is the owner of a photograph.  In the case of the Oscar ‘selfie’ this was Cooper not DeGeneres.

Still, DeGeneres could still be a co-owner.  In the case of Brod v General Publishing Group, an author used photographs without permission from the photographer.  Notwithstanding this, the author was considered to be a co-owner since he had participated in the creation of the images by looking at proofs and deciding how they were framed.

Furthermore, it has also been claimed that the ‘selfie’ was the result of a marketing ploy between Samsung and the Academy.  They may have told DeGeneres to set up the photograph using the Samsung phone they’d given her.  Though, under Brod, this would be a tenuous claim to co-ownership.

This again leaves Cooper and since he was tweeted the photograph himself it is unlikely that DeGeneres will have a lawsuit hanging over her any time soon.

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