An independent artist, by the name of Lina Iris Viktor, recently claimed that Kendrick Lamar copied her gold patterned paintings in the ‘All The Stars’ video made for the film Black Panther. She decided to file a lawsuit against Lamar, SZA, Universal Music Group and others involved in the video’s production claiming that her work had been featured without her permission.
The artist claims to have been contacted by the film’s representatives on multiple occasions as they sought permission to use her art. She refused this, opting instead to keep full control of her work. However, the final video doesn’t show a complete copy of the Viktor’s work and instead appears to be more reflective of the general look and feel of the art. If this is ultimately the finding of the court, it may result in an uphill battel for the artist.
Copyright doesn’t need to be registered in the UK or EU and instead, as soon as an original work has been created, copyright automatically subsites within it. However, disputes often hinge on the questions of originality and ownership and so it’s important to keep physical evidence of the development of your work (e.g. sketches and drafts) at all times. This will help with a claim as it will show the skill and effort involved in the creative process.
Creating something new often takes time, determination and a lot of research so to find out someone has copied it, or is used it without permission, can be incredibly aggravating. The artist in this case had support from social media users and felt understandably justified in her claims, but it’s always worth getting legal advice before starting proceedings as infringement claims can be won or lost on the smallest of technicalities. The most important issue to bear in mind with claims of this nature is that copyright does not protect ideas and it’s only the expression of original ideas which can benefit from this intellectual property right. However, if you think that your work has been used without your permission, contact firstname.lastname@example.org and speak to one of our specialist solicitors.
Authors: Chijioke Ude and William Miles