If you thought screen grabbing a stunning photo then reposting it to your Instagram feed was a perfectly innocent activity, then think again – even if you’re the subject of the photo.

Especially if you have almost 46 million followers like Gigi Hadid.

The New York-based supermodel is being sued by photographic agency Xclusive-Lee for posting an image of herself taken by herself by paparazzi outside the Forces in Fashion conference last October in New York. Hadid was a speaker at the show.

Dressed in a double-breasted denim jacket and matching tight denim bike shorts by Australia-raised designer Matthew Adams Dolan, teamed with silver stiletto pumps and a Prada mini bag. The 20-year-old appears to be mid-stride at the bottom of a sloped walkway and smiles happily at the camera.

What’s landed Hadid in hot water is the fact she did not own the rights to the picture, which belongs to an agency that makes money solely by selling images. Adding to the problem is the fact she was sued for the same thing in 2017, meaning she can’t plead ignorance to the concept of picture copyright.

Hadid removed the photo, which GRAZIA can’t publish but can reveal is almost identical to this snap (below), which we purchased from a rival photo agency. Before being deleted, though, more than 1.6 million people had liked or commented on it.

Given her status as one of the world’s top models, Xclusive-Lee is claiming her public image is what makes her millions. Their photo on her Instagram, they claim, is part of Hadid’s money-making, brand-building arsenal. As such, they’re asking for a cut.

This photo of Gigi Hadid was taken at the same time as the one in question. (Credit: Getty Images)

Hadid, however, isn’t going down without a fight. Her weapon of choice? Another Instagram post, of course, where she argued that there needed to be some give and take from the Papparazi. (An emotional argument, granted, but not a strong legal defence.)

“Yesterday I heard from my management that I am being ‘legally pursued’ for my last (now deleted) Instagram post,” she wrote [all sic].

“The photo is by a Paparazzi & is of me on the street outside an even…. I posed/smiled for the photo because I understand that this is part of my job, this was an appropriate situation for ‘the press’ to attend.”

“Most circumstances [though] are not this way,” she continued, before outlining the many ways paparazzi harass and invade her privacy, likening it to legal stalking that puts both the public and herself in extreme danger at times.

“These people make money off of us every day, LEGALLY stalking us day in and day out – for nothing special – for us to walk six feet to a car and six feet into a work building.”

“To the paparazzi, I understand that this is how you make your living, and I respect that this is something I must accept with my job. But there is a line. We are human beings, and sometimes it takes a lot of courage to engage with you because of the resentment I feel for the negative parts of these experiences.”

While it’s unlikely this will open the floodgates for mass lawsuits across regular Instagram users, it’s a timely reminder to high-profile celebrities who the agencies and photographers hope to set an example.

For our part, anything that encourages celebrities to post more real-life snaps from their iPhone rather than cut-and-paste work throwbacks is welcome news indeed.