'Click!' Texans QB Deshaun Watson Is Getting Sued For ... What?!

Mike Fisher

Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson's top on-field opponent this week is of course the visiting Baltimore Ravens. But his biggest off-field foe?

A lawsuit. About a photograph. Of Watson himself.

According to a report from ABC 13 (KTRK-TV), photographer Aaron M. Sprecher is suing Watson because the star QB posted a trio of photos to his Instagram account that - even though they are photos of Watson - are actually owned by the license-holder, the Associated Press.

The photos in question are from September 2017, May 2018, and January 2020 and show Watson in various poses and positions, including while signing autographs in 2020 at the Pro Bowl in Orlando.

To those of us who possess something shy of legal minds, the issue seems a bit ... well, petty. Doesn't a person own the right to their own image? 

But in short, the legal answer seems to be, essentially, no

Kevin McCulloch, Sprecher’s attorney, told ABC 13 that the freelance photographer tried to resolve the matter without resorting to the lawsuit.

"(Sprecher) and his licensing agency, AP, are always happy to license images to NFL players for personal uses such as this,” McCulloch said. “But as a freelancer, he can’t allow players to just take photos without payment or even giving him proper credit, since this is how he earns his living. And no one can seriously dispute this. In fact, it is our understanding that the NFL has made this clear to players.”

Indeed, many NFL players, often initially stunned at the news that they don't fully own images of themselves, are aware of this arrangement.

McCulloch told ABC 13 that they hope the issue “can get resolved quickly and amicably, as Mr. Sprecher certainly has no intention of making this simple matter any more contentious than necessary.”

Register today for free or log in to access this premium article.