NBA Photographer Suing LeBron James for Using Cropped Photo in Social Media Post

LeBron James, Paul George, Marcus Morris Sr.
Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James | Harry How/Getty Images

LeBron James is one of the most active and visible superstar athletes on social media, but his frequent posting might have gotten him into some serious legal trouble.

Photographer Steven Mitchell claims that copyright law grants him sole ownership of his photos, and any pictures used without his permission or without proper credit given constitutes a violation of copyright law. Because of this, he is suing the Los Angeles Lakers star for using that picture on social media without his approval.

There are three legal strategies James could use in this fight. First, his legal team could argue that he enjoys a "right of publicity" to images that contain himself in it, as that statute prevents James' name, image, and likeness from being used commercially without his permission.

Second, they could argue that the picture fell under fair use guidelines, considering James might say his post was to celebrate the dunk with fans rather than to make money off of Mitchell's picture. Lastly, James' lawyers could claim that the cropped photo is different enough from Mitchell's original wider photo to the point where James could be allowed to post it.

While sharing pictures without giving the photographers proper credit is near enough standard practice, Mitchell might have a legitimate case on his hands here. However, James is not short on avenues he can take when it comes to fighting this in court.