WASHINGTON, September 6, 2014 — The LA based Cory Allen Contemporary Art is planning to mount an art exhibit that will feature the images, in varying stages of nakedness, of celebrities hacked from the “cloud.” Celebs being outed include actresses Jennifer Lawrence, Emma Watson, Lena Dunham and supermodel Kate Upton.
The artist behind the exhibit, XVALA says that the exhibit will be part of his “Fear Google” campaign and held in a gallery located in St. Petersburg, Florida. He left unclear what the illegal actions of hackers have to do with Google.
In a statement, XVALA said that, “We share our secrets with technology, and when we do, our privacy becomes accessible to others.”
But there will be legal hurdles in this next chapter of the online content ownership war.
Most recently, the question of who owns a photo resulted when a photographer attempted to stop Wiki from publishing photos — selfies really — of a crested black macaque, a primate with red eyes and Joe Biden-like teeth.
The shooter, David Slatter of Britain, was on an expedition when, as he says, “one of the animals came up to investigate his equipment, hijacked a camera and took hundreds of selfies.”
Slater and Wiki, which posted the photos as a part of the public domain, are in a legal battle over who owns the pictures. Wiki says Slater doesn’t own the picture’s copyright because the monkey took the image. Animals cannot own copyrights, so they are in the public domain.
“That trip cost me about £2,000 for that monkey shot. Not to mention the £5,000 of equipment I carried, the insurance, the computer stuff I used to process the images. Photography is an expensive profession that’s being encroached upon They’re taking our livelihoods away,” he told the Telegraph. “For every 10,000 images I take, one makes money that keeps me going. And that was one of those images. It was like a year of work, really.”
During last years Oscars, Ellen DeGeneres arranged celebs for a photo, taken with her iPhone. But she wasn’t the shooter. That was Bradley Cooper. So who owns the photo — the owner of the iPhone, the person that clicked the button, or the person who composed the picture? Whether wrangling A-list celebs in the aisle at the Oscars or creating the situation that put a digital camera into the hands of primate, effort goes into creating a photo. Whose effort creates a copyright?
AP feels Ellen owns the Oscars photo — she posted it to Twitter after all — and they asked her permission to use the photo, but Ellen did not snap the pic; Bradley Cooper did. Photographer Slater did not snap the money monkey selfie; the black macaque did.
Then there is Reddit user Johnsmcjohn, who collated and posted the photos to the social media platform. John is not hiding, but has been out there in plain site; according The Wire, “he has even openly celebrated the traffic the stolen pictures have contributed to his message board … Thank you to everyone who has made this possible. It’s been great watching and helping this place grow. :)”, “John” posted on Reddit.
John does not fear lawsuits or celebrity retribution. He is among the internet users who feel that if it’s posted, available, or can be uncovered (i.e., hacked) online, than it’s fair gain for use by whomever, however.
But what about the gallery and artist who are financially benefitting from those photos? According to, once again, Wiki:
Currently, Playmates of the Month are paid US$25,000 and Playmates of the Year receive an additional US$100,000 plus a car and a motorcycle. In addition, Anniversary Playmates are usually chosen to celebrate a milestone year of the magazine.
Had Jennifer Lawrence chosen to pose for Playboy, she would have received compensation, most likely significant amoutns of it, which XVALA and the hackers, have stolen from her. Other complaints could include invasion of privacy and intentional infliction of emotional duress.
Two points to ponder: It is possible that XVALA is looking for his / her 15 minutes of fame, because from CNN to CDN, we are writing about him / her. (I bet it is a he.) Second, why are Jennifer Lawrence, Kate Upton, Emma Watson, etc. taking naked selfies in the first place?
Its not like they are over 35 and don’t understand how all this online stuff works.
It’s not as if they are not photographed all the time. It can’t be that they are naïve, or that they believe that once they post a file to an internet connected device, they can absolutely control it. The NSA could not control it; what hope does Lea Dunham have?
A word of advice. The internet highway has a very big curb and all that stuff you have online is there for taking in what could be considered 21st century garbage pick. In other words, if you would not have thrown it in the garbage and put it on the curb of your Hollywood Hills home, it does not belong on the cyberhighway curb, either.