Bradley Cooper Legally Owns The Rights To That Oscar Selfie

By March 4, 2014

I promised myself I’d never use the word “selfie” – let alone in a headline – but the wild world we live in occasionally dictates that we do things we never thought we’d do.

I don’t want to get into a whole thing about how the famous photo (above) taken at the Oscars on Sunday night was part of a big advertising campaign for a certain phone company (to name them would only be giving them what they want – more publicity), but there is one element of the picture that is interesting enough that I thought it was worth passing along to you guys. TMZ, of all places, says that the photo’s true owner is actually Bradley Cooper.

Even though Cooper snapped the pic on Ellen’s phone, the rights to the photo technically belong to him since he’s the one who physically captured the moment. If Ellen had taken the picture, the rights would revert to The Academy, since she signed a contract with them when she agreed to host the event. After hearing that, I thought I remembered Ellen making something of a fuss in the moment about how she wanted to take the picture (which may have indicated that she was aware of the contractual agreement), but looking back at it, she actually tries to get Meryl Streep to take it before Cooper takes over, so she likely had no idea about the details of ownership at the time.

In all likelihood, Cooper will simply sign whatever paperwork is necessary to transfer the rights to The Academy so they can use it forever in whatever manner they choose. (He is a two time Academy Award-nominee, after all, so it probably wouldn’t look great if he didn’t give it up to them.) This is essentially a non-story: it’s more trivia than anything else. I’m not trying to drum up any kind of controversy attached to the picture, I just would never have thought about the fact that Cooper owns the rights because he used Ellen’s phone (or at least a phone Ellen was given for the night) to take it. But hey, I also never would have thought I’d link to TMZ in an article, so I guess I’m breaking all kinds of self-imposed rules today.

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Ben is a writer living in Los Angeles, California. His work has been featured at,,,, and many more sites across the web. Some of his favorite movies include The Rocketeer, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, Tombstone, Lucky Number Slevin, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Collateral, Double Indemnity, Back to the Future and The Prestige. Follow him on Twitter: @BenPears.
  • Ernest B Ingalls

    My goodness. This is where we are on this whole thing? Whom do I have to pay a royalty to to look at it? The picture was actually MY idea. Who do I contact?

  • Richard R Moore

    Way to go Hollywood. Leading the forefront in petty childish behavior once again. You cannot expect us to believe they are serious about this. Sell the damn thing and be done with this.

  • Susan P Graham

    OMG! This takes the cake. If I had taken the picture, no one would have said a word. Mr. Cooper deserves the photo as it was his hand that struck the shutter. Let it go Ellen! This one isn’t about you!

  • Michael I Payton

    Oh get bent Ellen! Cool photo! I would like one time to attend this event but not sure my heart could handle the pretentiousness in the room. Bring back the class that used to be the Oscars!