Shutterstock Calls Out Lady Gaga After She Uses Watermarked Stock Image in a Post Complaining About Music Piracy

Lady Gaga has been mocked by Shutterstock for using a stock photo without permission, which included their watermark emblazoned across it. The singer posted the two images in a tweet about fans pirating her new music, which leaked onto the internet last week. “We like artists to be paid for their work too. Here’s a link to the photographer’s work where you can license these quality images,” tweeted Shutterstock.

Released against her will, Gaga’s new track, “Stupid Love,” has been doing the rounds on social media. Clearly irritated by its circulation, she attempted to make light of the situation by posting two humorous stock photos on Twitter. Given that both featured Shutterstock’s logo, the singer had clearly lifted them without purchase.

Shutterstock soon caught wind, noting how her actions were hypocritical, given that she had clearly not purchased the photographer’s images before posting to her 80 million followers. Gaga’s fans were quick to jump to her defense, claiming that Shutterstock was trying to take advantage of her fame and that because the images were watermarked, they were fair game.

Children's author Richard Nelson, who took the photo, saw the funny side, even going as far as to tweet the images with the watermarked removed. “As the photographer of this picture, I got you,” he wrote, accompanied by a laughing emoji.

Lead image Philip Nelson via Flickr CC.

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Kawika Lopez's picture

Can someone correct me if I’m wrong. Watermarks do not make artistic property “fair game.” They are there to communicate that the piece of work is protected by intellectual property rights and any use requires the owners consent.

Alex Cooke's picture


Benoit Pigeon's picture

I get it, but then I'm not sure how Shutterstock is honest paying $.25 for a photo. It's a photo and should not be labeled as bulk until you bring 5000 more. Crooks vs crooks, still crooks. Go Gaga, I bet Shutterstock won't sue her, which they should do and give the $ to the photographer and keep just their $.25 and feel the pain they impose on their own participants.

Deleted Account's picture

The photographer provided (via tweet) her with the images for free. The whole story is bleeding irony.

Benoit Pigeon's picture

Yes, absolutely and what a great way to tell her the F word.

Tony Clark's picture

The hypocrisy of it all. An artist complaining about protecting Intellectual Property by violating another artist's property.

Deleted Account's picture

Who then provides Gaga with the images for free... Ironic? So should we still keep pirating her music?

Pierre Dasnoy's picture

Well, it seems like she missed a good opportunity to shut up...

Robert Nurse's picture

Perhaps she was injecting "see how it feels?" irony. Does Shutterstock pay its contributors appropriately?

Deleted Account's picture

I doubt it. It would be weird to make an example of a party not involved to get back at the people you're complaining about. It doesn't come full circle.

If we follow the story all the way to the end, the artist who took the photographs gave Gaga the images for free. If we want to keep the same line of logic, that action basically devalues her original assertion that people should be paying for creative work.

Deleted Account's picture

Doesn't Lady Gaga understand the number one rule of the internet? If you tell people not to do something they will do it even more.

Patrick Hall's picture

My favorite tweets were from Lady Gaga fans who claimed she did Shutterstock a huge favor by promoting "a site we have never heard of before." For an image that costs <$2, I actually kind of agree with them. That's a steal of advertising for an image that wouldn't have been worth much to begin with.

Jacques Cornell's picture

Well then, music pirates did Gaga a huge favor by promoting a song I've never heard of before.

Jan Holler's picture

Ha, this story is so much better than that song which stands behind it.

Spy Black's picture

Has Shutterstock ever been caught using peoples photos like Getty?

Fristen Lasten's picture

Does anyone really believe Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta grabbed those images and tweeted that? Does she not have people for that?

Sergio Lucato's picture

iTunes and the likes sell the songs for $0.99 and I doubt the artist gets a quarter per purchase. In that way a Shutterstock image is still worth more than one iTunes song. In any case, you can't complain that others are stealing your work if you aren't willing to pay the going rate yourself. And if an artist like her does not know that grabbing a random image is stealing, why should anyone know that grabbing a random song is? Just because one artist is famous and the other one less so, does not change the basics of it all.

Benoit Pigeon's picture

I highly doubt any single image on micro stock was ever sold millions of times