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A Student’s View: Selling a Photo Taken in a Paparazzi Free Zone

Photo Taken Paparazzi Free ZoneDavis Ingwers, a student in Jon Pfeiffer’s Spring 2013 Mass Communication Law class at Pepperdine University, wrote the following essay in response to the question: “You take a photo of a famous actor in the “paparazzi free” zone at the Malibu Lumberyard. Can you sell the photo? Would your answer be different if you are a paparazzo?”

I should not be allowed to sell the photograph regardless if I am a paparazzo or not. Frist, since the Malibu Lumber Yard has clear signage that indicates “no paparazzi” are allowed – you must assume their efforts are in an attempt to create a specific type of environment for the target market or consumer. By taking a picture of a famous actor and then selling it, that individual would be assuming the role of a paparazzi in doing so – which clearly is prohibited at the Lumber Yard. By disregarding that rule, I would be in direct conflict with the owners of the Lumber Yard for breaking a rule they had expressed very explicitly. In taking and selling that photo, I would be wronging the owners of that facility.

In addition, I would be doing wrong by the actor whom I took a picture of and then sold. Since the Malibu Lumbar Yard has been publicly designated as a “paparazzi free” zone, an actor can come there and expect not to be harassed or followed by photographers who do so everywhere else. If I’m not a paparazzo, but I then take up the role of one – I am still violating that rule and in turn imposing on both the owners of the Lumber Yard and the actor whose picture was taken.

Personally I think its almost more incorrect if I sell the picture and am not a paparazzo – it just seems more selfish to me. At least the paparazzo would have been doing his job.


Davis Ingwers is a senior at Pepperdine University majoring in Telecomm Television Production.

Jon Pfeiffer is an experienced entertainment and copyright trial attorney practicing in Santa Monica. Jon is also an adjunct professor at Pepperdine University in Malibu, California where he teaches Media Law. COM 570 covers First Amendment issues as well as copyright, defamation and privacy.  

  • Pepperdine Student Comments
  • Jul 07, 2013

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