In Vampire Weekend Case, Photog Denies Charges

The photographer who allegedly provided an improperly released photograph for the cover of Vampire Weekend’s 2010 Contra album has formally denied claims against him.

Tod Brody allegedly provided the photograph of former model Ann Kirsten Kennis for the album cover without Kennis’s permission. She sued Brody, Vampire Weekend, and the band’s record label for misappropriating her identity for commercial gain. She is asking for at least $2 million in damages.

The band and its label responded by blaming any legal liability on Brody, and asserting that damages are his responsibility.

According to court records, the Kennis portait–a Polaroid–was shot around 1983. But Kennis says Brody not only didn’t take the photograph, but he provided it to Vampire Weekend and the band’s record company with “a forged release signed by someone claiming to be Kirsten Johnsen.”

Last fall, an attorney for Kennis told PDN, “We don’t know who took the photograph.” Brody told PDN at the time, “We will easily prove in court that I took the photo.”

Kennis had difficulty serving Brody with her claims, but she finally succeeded last month. In an 11-page response he filed in US District Court in Los Angeles two days ago, Brody denied the charges.

He says he is not liable for fraud, as Kennis charged, “because of the fraud of the Plaintiff”–ie, Kennis herself.

He didn’t specify what fraud Kennis allegedly committed.

He also said that “any injury to [Kennis] was caused by [her] own actions or the actions of Parties over whom the defendant [Brody] has no control.”

Brody asserted in his response that he didn’t act “willfully or with intent to damage plaintiff or infringe plaintiff’s rights.” He also says he has satisfied all of his legal obligations to Kennis “if any,” and goes on to say that his actions “were authorized by an implied license.” He didn’t provide details, however.

Brody concludes his response by asking the court to dismiss Kennis’s claims, and to award him attorneys’ fees.

Update: Brody filed answers yesterday to that cross-claims by Vampire Weekend its record label that lay the legal blame on him.  In those answers, Brody says he never agreed to provide a signed release for the image in question. He also denies the claim that he provided a signed release that he said was signed by the woman in the photograph. And he refutes the allegation that he isn’t the author of the image.

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