Another Photog Threatens to Sue Rihanna Over Music Video

Philipp Paulus alleges that the S&M video image (left) is a rip-off of his photograph (right)

First David LaChapelle sued Rihanna for infringement, claiming she ripped off some of his photographs to create the video for her hit song S&M. Now a young Paris fashion photographer is threatening to sue on the grounds that Rihanna ripped off his work, too.

Photographer Philipp Paulus, 19, issued a press release claiming that a scene from the S&M video showing Rihanna pinned to a wall with plastic wrap and black tape is identical to the “set, staging and photographies” of Paulus’s “Paperworld” fashion series.

“The copyright laws of our client has been infringed and the worldwide million-wise exploitation of the video “S&M“ is unlawful,” Paulus’s lawyer says in a press release which was badly translated from the French before it was posted by the celebrity watch site Radar

“Why a worldwide celebrity is not able to afford a creative director…is incomprehensible to me,” Paulus says, adding that Rihanna “stole ideas from a creative talent” rather than create her own work.

The press release also accuses Universal Music, Rihanna’s record label, of hypocrisy. Universal spends a lot of money and resources to locate and admonish those who infringe its copyrighted music, the press release points out. “It is even more astonishing that – how in this case – the major-label Universal Music does exactly what itself denounces and admonishes – namely the infringement of the copyright of others!!”

Where and when Paulus actually files suit remains to be seen, but if he follows through on his threat, he’ll have the same uphill legal battle that LaChapelle is having. That is, he’ll have to prove that Rihanna copied his photographic execution–including  elements such as lighting, styling, props, lenses, camera angles, etc–and not just his creative ideas.

David LaChapelle Sues Rihanna for Infringement
You Be the Judge: Did Rihanna Infringe David LaChapelle’s Work?
Rihanna’s Lawyers Give David LaChapelle a Spanking

14 Responses to “Another Photog Threatens to Sue Rihanna Over Music Video”

  1. Another Photog Threatens to Sue Rihanna Over Music Video | Global Community of Photography Says:

    […] TweetCONTINUE READING TO SOURCE Another Photog Threatens to Sue Rihanna Over Music Video […]

  2. Matthew Says:

    Are you kidding?

    They look totally different. I can’t see a single thing in Rihanna’s video that resembles Paulus’ photo.

    Who is the editor of this magazine ?

    ; )

  3. Concert Photos Magazine Says:

    The size of the plastic sheet compared to the size of the person, the black tape X’s and the hands up against the plastic are more than coincidence. It seems to be a copy of the original set.

  4. bettmo Says:

    why not go ahead and have matt groening sue also for that simpsons episode where they were action figures and comic book guy had them preserved in plastic on the wall.

  5. pevanesce Says:

    Suing for stealing someone’s image is one thing. Suing someone for emulating an idea is foolish. It shouldn’t hold up in court. Both LaChapelle and Paulus should get back to the business of making images.

  6. Dan Says:

    @Matthew, you can’t be serious. At the very least, the Rihanna video scene appears to have been inspired by Paulus’ photo–plastic wrap, black X’s and color palette.

  7. Keith Says:

    They are wasting her money, hoping for an out of court settlement. Copyright does not protect an idea from someone else recreating it from scratch. I’m 100% for photographer’s copyright rights — but these two are dead wrong in this case and will both loose if a judge actually decides.

  8. Rhianna and Universal in trouble for copyright infringement | PhotoBizCoach Says:

    […] Please click the link to the article on PDN, look at the images tell me if you think they are infringing the original idea? […]

  9. Joel P Black Says:

    It seems to me that I agree with pevanesce. So let me get what they are suing about. If shoot in a slot canyon and I choose the same angle, time of day and kick dust in the air then Peter Lik can sue me. I don’t think so.

  10. Ramalles Says:

    After reading the article and looking at the photo vs the still of the video. In my opinion, it’s going to be a hard case for the photographer to win. A video is a different medium than a still photograph. I think if Philipp Paulus’ work was a live performance and recorded on video, he would have a case.Artists throughout history have used other artists’ work for inspiration.

    I can think of several examples off the top of my head… How many times has Grant Wood’s “American Gothic” painting been spoof or copied with some other model’s face being used, or Leonardo da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa” been used in satire?

    If this photographer wins his case, then the average photographer needs to start policing his or her images to see who has copied their work from lighting, props, and poses. Look as all the photographic trends out there that were started by one photographer and other photographers both professional and amateur have knocked off a pose, lighting effect, background, prop because they liked the way it looked and then earned money from it.

    As a professional photographer and fine artist, I stay clear from producing work stylized after another photographer and artist; I will use their work for inspiration, but I would truly make the work original to my style.Will be interesting to keep up with this article for I think it will impact artists throughout the world and how they get inspired to create works of art.

  11. CNicole Says:

    @Ramalles: I was thinking the same thing. I don’t know if they can win this suit but it does look like she copied. I guess we’ll see what happens.

  12. Joe B Says:

    If they win this suit all then Art photographers who work in the Michael Kenna aestetic – Josef Hoflehner-Michael Levin, David Fokos to name a few had better run and hide with their ND filters.

  13. John R. Says:

    Hey, he should sue every toy maker as they all wrap their toys like that, or maybe they should sue him, chicken or egg. If we can’t take inspiration from someone else work to help ourselves develop creatively well then I’m sure we all could be sued. This sounds like a kid who would rather sue and get rick quick than do the hard work that it take to make it in this business. Get over yourself.

  14. bpietrini Says:

    David is doing the right thing. I am not to familiar with the other artist Philipp, so I cant say too much about him and his work. But David has been a huge inspiration to me with both his directing and his photography. I have been looking at David’s photographs for years and years now and almost know the ins and outs of all his pieces. Rihanna completely ripped him off in almost every way possible, from conceptual idea, to lighting, to color palette to camera angles, everything. The first time I watched the S&M video all I could think about is David’s photographs scene after scene. I thought to myself, that’s a Lachapelle image, then again and again through out the whole video. So at first I thought maybe he was the director for Rihanna like he directed allot of other artist videos. But no, he had nothing to do with the video one bit. It is one thing to get inspiration from someone’s work and RECREATING the idea in your own vision, then another thing to completely rip off and steel the same vision someone else previously had. That’s what separates us as artists.
    Lachapelle has a unique way of doing everything. From his unique lighting, styling, color palettes, angles and of course mainly his unique ideas to get his voice heard and his point across. Forget lighting and everything else for a second. Lachapelle is known for his creative mind, his concepts, his own way of saying what he thinks. It doesn’t matter if it is in another medium or not, he does both anyway. What matters is that they stole Lachapelle’s way of speaking to the world, his unique way to express himself as an artist from work he has already done. And as artist all we have is our voice behind the images. If people can just come along and steel our creative expressions, then there’s no point to creatively define ourselves as artists.
    Some of you are missing the point completely. Oh and if you get to the same place that Lik shot that canyon, I don’t know why you wouldn’t try to put your own expression into it anyway in a place that beautiful. But they are two total different spectrums of work. A nature photographer in a sense is not creating every aspect of his image from scratch like Lachapelle or other photographers of that caliber. They are capturing the simple beauty and essence of nature in the way they see it, with there own vision behind it, with a certain feel that want to express, with a story that they are trying to portray.
    With that being said, I agree with the photographer’s point of view that Rihanna and Universal are completely in the wrong. And something needs to be done about this issue.