California Intellectual Property Blog


Jonas Brothers Sued for Copyright Infringement

Orange County – Nick Jonas – along with Jonas Brothers Enterprises, LLC – have been sued by Joshua Wong Photography, LLC for copyright infringement. The complaint was filed yesterday June 22, 2020 in the U.S. District Court in the Southern District of New York.  The claim stems from a photograph of Priyanka Chopra that was shared by Nick Jonas on both Instagram and Twitter. Joshua Wong Photography claims the use was unauthorized and thus a violation of the Copyright Act.

On December 5, 2019, an image of Priyanka Chopra was shared from the Instagram account of Nick Jonas. The image received over 790,000 “likes” on the social media platform. A similar posting shared on Twitter is alleged to have gained 8,800 “likes” on the website. Jonas and Chopra were married in 2018.

The image in question features Chopra at an event standing in front of a Johnson & Johnson background. On the Instagram post, Jonas shared the following:

“So proud of who you are and the good you’ve brought into the world as a goodwill ambassador with @unicef @unicefindia for over 15 years now. You inspire me every single day by just being you. Congratulations my love.”

In the court filing, Joshua Wong Photography claims that the shared image is owned and registered by the company. The lawsuit alleges that the photograph was improperly used to promote the Jonas brand without permission or consent of the owner.

In cases of copyright litigation, the defendant only faces the potential for punitive damages and attorney’s fees when it can be proven that their actions were willful. In the lawsuit filed against Nick Jonas and Jonas Brothers Enterprises, Joshua Wong Photography claims the acts were “willful, intentional, and purposeful, in disregard of and indifference to Plaintiff’s rights.”

Since Joshua Wong Photography claims the violations were intentional, they’re seeking the following forms of relief:

  • Actual damages and defendants’ profits.
  • Punitive damages.
  • Attorney’s fees and costs.
  • Awarding of pre-judgment interest.
  • Further relief the court may deem appropriate.

The lawsuit also requests that the defendants be adjudged as having committed copyright infringement, and a further request is made that any profits or other benefits be accounted for. The claim was filed by the Liebowitz Law Firm on behalf of Joshua Wong Photography and requests that a jury trial be scheduled.  It is also not the first time that Mr. Liebowitz has filed a lawsuit against the Jonas Brothers.

In instances of Instagram and Twitter copyright infringement, we typically suggest sending a copyright cease and desist letter as a first step.  It is also possible to report the infringing acts directly to the social media platform. The lawsuit does not specify whether either of these courses of action was taken, but these steps are not required prior to filing a legal claim.

It is now contingent on Nick Jonas, he and his brother’s company, and their legal representatives to respond to the claim.

The best way to avoid claims of copyright infringement on social media is to only post original content. Getting written permission from the rightful owner is another way to avoid liability. Only time will tell if the claims against Nick Jonas and Jonas Brothers Enterprises hold merit.  Either way the most likely outcome will be a settlement.


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