Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James has agreed to settle a lawsuit with a photographer for using his image by posting it on social media. The LeBron James lawsuit began in early 2020 after James posted a photo of himself dunking a basketball on Facebook. Steven Mitchell had taken the photo of the 35-year-old during a Lakers game, but LeBron didn’t get Mitchell’s permission to post it and didn’t attribute the photo to Mitchell.
According to The Athletic, LeBron James had taken the photo down after Mitchell had sued him in March, argued in court documents that he was allowed to use the photo without permission if he wasn’t trying to make any money from it. However, while the Lakers star wasn’t trying to make money with that Facebook post, there are various other posts where the NBA superstar is earning a chunk of money. The report states that the mixture of entertainment and commerce was the hindrance with James’ argument.
The report stated that LeBron James had countersued Mitchell in August, claiming that Mitchell was trying to promote his own photo agency by illegally using photos of James on his website. The former Miami Heat star's’ countersuit was for $1 million, while Mitchell had been seeking at least $150,000 in his original lawsuit. However, James finally settled the lawsuit following interaction between James’ attorney, Howard Shire, and Judge Jean Rosenbluth.
Shire had stated that as a settlement hearing would have been an “imposition” on James’ time, he had been given the power to negotiate on his behalf.
However, the judge disagreed, suggesting that the Lakers star had countersued, and thus had an obligation to litigate those claims. The report did not reveal the terms of the settlement though. As per The Athletic, the two sides wrote in the joint filing, "The parties thus jointly request twenty-one (21) days to memorialize and execute the agreement in writing, after which time the parties intend to file a stipulation of dismissal with prejudice."
LeBron James and his companies LRMR Ventures and Uninterrupted Digital Ventures are also parties to the lawsuit. With copyright infringement becoming quite a common crime these days, LeBron's lawsuit could set a precedent for high-profile athletes and celebrities.