Angelina Jolie. Memes. Copyright
Intellectual property

Angelina Jolie. Memes. Copyright

The video of Angelina Jolie’s visit to a cafe in Lviv quickly went viral, with many memes and situational promotions.

As an expert in intellectual property, I could not get past. I propose to review this case in terms of law and commercialization 💸

Video operator’s copyright?

We assume that the author is an operator who can claim the rights to work. If a dispute arises, those interested can prove that the video is not original, there is no creative contribution of the author, and, accordingly, no copyright.

Against originality: random shooting, no original techniques and personal contribution to the author, no retouching or correction of work, etc.

✔️ In favor of originality: it may be a pre-planned format, selected suitable shooting angle, prepared interior, or guy model. But in general, in some cases with “random” photos, it can be seen that the works may be protected by copyright. The logic is that the author was or was in the right place at the right time and organized the shooting itself, which could not be.

Why is copyright needed?

Because it gives the exclusive right to use, license, and prohibit the use of others, such liberties in Ukraine are valid during the life of the author and 70 years later.

For example, if the object is an author’s photo or character. You may not use it without permission, especially for commercial purposes on the site, product, or advertising campaign. There are risks such as bans on use, removal from marketplaces, recovery of damages, and compensation.

Do I need to register copyright?

It all depends on the circumstances and purpose. If you are sure that you can easily prove your authorship – no. Because the rights arise from the moment the work is created and do not require mandatory registration.

If it is an international, complex, commercial project, it is usually recommended to have proof of authorship. Such evidence may be just registration. And in some countries, such as the United States, it is impossible to obtain compensation or legal fees without registration. In such cases, complete protection of rights will be possible only after registration.

Do you need Jolie’s permission to make a video?

Yes, you do.  On the one hand, she is a public figure, a celebrity, and her reputation cannot be used in her affairs without permission. Especially “enjoy the moment” and commercialize it. Reputational damage, such as foul shots, distortions, etc., cannot be caused.

No, you don’t. Jolie is an international celebrity, and the video can be interpreted as an important event for society, news, and fixation on a particular fact. The video was made public and was probably made for non-commercial purposes. Nowadays, it is common for famous people to be filmed by passers-by. In addition, Jolie could be a UN Goodwill Ambassador, which also testifies to the publicity and mission of an important event for society.


They can be considered parodies. But there is one BUT.  Parody is a creative reworking of another legitimately published work. If it is proved that it is not a work protected by copyright, then there is no parody.

In any case, “public and individual rights” remain.

What about that guy? Already a celebrity or just got handed out? No one has revoked constitutional, “personal” rights to privacy. As a general rule, you need permission to shoot. Especially if it is not a public event, such as a concert, conference, or similar circumstances. If certain memes offend or interfere with ordinary life, you can complain, demand content removal, public apologies, and even compensation for the damage. On the other side – is it real from a practical point of view? Not always, because videos and memes can be too viral and challenging to identify.

Or maybe the guy is a model with whom the operator has signed a contract?)

According to Jolie, I will add. Celebrities, politicians, and other public figures must get used to criticism and public attention because it is their work and conscious choice. Increased attention can be expressed in photos, posts, comments, and articles by third parties and the media. Who will be interested, I will share relevant decisions of the European Court of Human Rights, write me in personal messages.

As conclusions

Each case should be carefully analyzed. It is necessary to consider the type of object, the order of its creation, participants and their rights, and features of use by others (commercial, educational, news, etc.).

If the use is carried out without permission, you should check whether it is allowed by law in Ukraine. What are the norms to free reproduction with the author’s instructions? In the USA, it is the doctrine of fair use. In case of misuse – search for the best option to stop the violation. This can be either a court or a procedure to prevent breaches on the Internet.

But in general, hire great lawyers. Because the approaches are so different.

I hope it was worthwhile. Everything will be Ukraine 💙💛

Author of the material:

Sergiy Barbashin, intellectual property expert

managing partner at Trustme Law Firm