Interesting how a single picture can cause so much controversy. Well, take one giant retailer, a celebrity and the unauthorized use of photos and you'll get the perfect recipe for a lawsuit. In this case, we're talking about Topshop being allegedly sued by Rihanna for $5 million over graphic t-shirts featuring the songstress face from her “We Found Love” music video.
A source told the New York Post newspaper that, “Rihanna's management asked Topshop a number of times to stop selling her image and were told, 'We do what we want'. They buy the pictures from a photographer, but they do not pay the artist licensing fees. Unfortunately, UK law does not protect the artist. What is most offensive for Rihanna is that they basically told her, 'Go to hell. We don't care; we are going to continue selling you'. They offered her $5,000 and said they don't care.”
The tees are only being sold in the UK where anyone who legally purchases an image can use it, unless it is trademarked. The item with Rihanna’s picture on it is called the 'Icon Tank' and is described as a “photographic tank with photographic motif of a girl wearing a headscarf.”
“Even though the UK laws don’t protect the artist, she has decided to move forward and sue Topshop. She has spent almost $1 million in litigation at this point. She says it’s the principle, and wants to make a statement about it. They are taking advantage of artists. It is just exploitation. What they are doing is wrong,” the source told the New York Post.
It seems that the case will be heard at Her Majesty’s High Court of Justice this summer. According to a Topshop source “This issue is related to a T-shirt provided to Topshop by a third-party supplier. We are aware it is the subject of litigation. [There are] public documents” available for inspection in the London court.
This is not the first time that the famous singer is involved in this type of situation. In 2011, photographer David LaChapelle sued Rihanna saying that she copied the “composition, total concept, feel, tone, mood, theme, colours, props, settings, decors, wardrobe and lighting” of his work for her S&M video. However, the two parts managed to reach to a resolution out of court.
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Photos: Getty Images, Topshop