A freelance photographer is suing Deshaun Watson over pictures Watson posted to his personal Instagram account.
According to the initial report from Houston ABC affiliate KTRK, freelancer Aaron Sprecher is suing over unlicensed usage of his own shots by Watson.
With the ink barely dry on his $177 million contract extension with the Houston Texans, Deshaun Watson is facing a lawsuit that claims the quarterback posted three images to his Instagram without a photographer’s permission.
Aaron M. Sprecher’s lawsuit, which was filed in U.S. District Court on Monday, alleges the star quarterback never had a license from the Associated Press, the license-holder of the photos, to repost them to his social media account, which currently boasts 1.4 million followers.
The images date back from September 2017, May 2018 and back in January of this year, virtually chronicling Watson’s rise in the NFL from his 2017 rookie year.
The images in question are fairly routine, the kinds of pictures that show up on a lot of athlete Instagram pages every week.
The 2017 image shows Watson sporting sunglasses, ear-covering headphones, a shirt, suit and bowtie during a pregame walk to the locker room.
The 2018 image shows a profile of Watson in helmet, pads and uniform, from the shoulders up.
The 2020 image captures Watson signing autographs for fans while at a Pro Bowl practice.
No one likes to see their work appropriated, of course, especially without attribution. On the other hand, it’s hard to see where the photographer is going to come out ahead. Predictably, the team has already revoked his credentials according to Sprecher’s attorney, which is what tends to happen when you file a suit against the franchise quarterback. Same thing with being harassed on social media:
“Since it has happened many times, he finally felt he had no choice but to retain our firm to help him resolve this matter. We think it is unfortunate that it came to this point, but we hope that the issue can get resolved quickly and amicably, as Mr. Sprecher certainly has no intention of making this simple matter any more contentious than necessary,” said McCulloch.
Sprecher has also been denied credentials to future Texans games, according to McCulloch, who speculated that this was a retaliatory move.
The photographer’s social media accounts, the lawyer says, have been targeted by Watson’s fans and possibly other NFL players.
As to the “possibly other NFL players”, there was this exchange from two of Watson’s teammates:
Imagine getting sued for using a photo of yourself…
— Dylan Cole (@dylancole31) September 15, 2020
In any case, the photographer should really be hoping he pulls off a win here, because it’s basically the only avenue he’s left himself.