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March 7th, 2011

PDN Video Pick: Pieter Hugo’s “Control” Music Video

Photographer Pieter Hugo co-directed this video for South African artist/dj Spoek Mathambo’s “Control,” a very tangy cover of Joy Division’s “She’s Lost Control.” The Cape Town-based Hugo,known for his books and exhibitions Nollywood and The Hyena & Other Men, and cinematographer Michael Cleary shot the video in a hostel in Langa, Cape Town, with a cast of local teens including members of the Happy Feet dance troupe.

Watch and see how long it takes to get the song, or the imagery, out of your head.

Fulll credits and cast list can be found on Vimeo.

(Via Wayne Lawrence Photography)

February 18th, 2011

You Be the Judge: Did Rihanna Infringe David LaChapelle’s Work?

As we reported two days ago, David LaChapelle has sued pop singer Rihanna, charging that her new music video called “S&M” was “directly derived from and is substantially similar to” his images.

Does he have a case? You decide. Below are the exhibits from David LaChapelle’s claim, showing his images side-by-side with frame grabs from Rihanna’s video.

As intellectual property attorney Nancy Wolff explained in our previous story, the case turns not on whether the “S&M” video copied LaChapelle’s ideas. (Ideas are not protected by copyright law.) Instead, the legal question is whether the video copied LaChapelle’s executions too closely. In other words, is the video “substantially similar” enough to LaChapelle’s images to constitute copyright infringement?

The “substantially similar” standard is subjective, but courts decide by comparing distinct copyrightable elements of the executions. Those elements include composition, format, camera angle, lighting, props, styling, and other factors.

As a judge, you have three basic options when you do the comparison:

1. You can decide that no reasonable jury would find substantial similarity, and dismiss the case. (The plaintiff could appeal.)

2. You can decide that any reasonable jury would find substantially similarity, and declare victory for the plaintiff. (The defendant could appeal, but would be under pressure to settle.)

3. You can decide you’re not sure what a reasonable jury might decide–and send the case to trial by jury.

Without further ado, here are the exhibits. In each instance, David LaChapelle’s images are on the left, while the “S&M” video frame grabs are on the right:



February 16th, 2011

David LaChapelle Sues Rihanna for Infringement

Photographer David LaChapelle has filed suit against pop star Rihanna for allegedly copying eight of his widely published photographs in a new music video. He is seeking at least $1 million in damages and an injunction to stop distribution of the video.

LaChapelle is suing not only Rihanna, but the director of the video for her song “S&M,” as well as the video production company and Rihanna’s record label. He filed the claim on Monday in federal district court in Manhattan.

Known for his surreal fashion and editorial images, LaChapelle alleges that Rihanna asked the director of her “S&M” video to make it “LaChapelle-esque.” He charges that the storyboards for the video included prints of his images, to bolster his claim that his work was copied willfully. (more…)

February 1st, 2011

Photog Glen E. Friedman Suing Artist For Infringement of RUN DMC Image

Photographer Glen E. Friedman is suing artist Theirry Guetta for copyright infringement in a case that echoes the recently settled legal dispute between the Associated Press and Shepard Fairey. To create his iconic “Hope” poster of Obama, Fairey used an image of Obama taken by a photographer working for the Associated Press without permission. The AP claimed infringement, while Fairey argued fair use. The parties settled recently, with neither admitting defeat.

Thierry Guetta is accused of using a well-know Friedman image of hip-hop pioneers RUN DMC as the basis for several artworks, including “posters, lithographs, paintings and other art,” according to the complaint filed by Freidman and his lawyers in a California district court.

Friedman alleges that Guetta’s use of the image has caused “substantial damage to [Friedman's] business in the form of diversion of trade, loss of income and profits, and a dilution of the value of its rights.”

In establishing copyright, the complaint notes that the image of RUN DMC was included in a copyrighted book Friedman published in 1994. The complaint also notes that Guetta has sold products based on the copyrighted image.

In their answer to the complaint, Guetta and his lawyers deny that Guetta had any knowledge that he was infringing on Friedman’s copyright. They claim that Guetta’s work is protected by the First Amendment (free speech) and that if any use of the copyrighted work is proved, it is fair use.

A trial date has not been set.

January 28th, 2011

PDN Video Picks: Bruce Davidson and Bob Dylan

Here is a trailer for the promotional video produced by Magnum Photos to promote Bob Dylan’s 2009 record, “Together Through Life.” When Dylan’s management contacted Magnum Photos about licensing an image from Bruce Davidson’s iconic “Brooklyn Gang” series for the cover of the CD, Magnum’s director of publishing, broadcast and film, Michael Shulman, pitched Dylan and his record label, Columbia Records, on the idea of producing a multimedia piece to promote the album. Producer Adrian Kelterborn, a member of Magnum’s in-house multimedia production team, Magnum In Motion, worked with Shulman and the label on the piece. It was shown on Amazon.com to draw attention to the album release.

This and other image licensing projects were featured in “(Re)Sales Opportunities,” in the January 2011 Money Issue of PDN. Subscribers can log in to PDNonline to read the story here.

January 12th, 2011

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. (more…)

December 21st, 2010

Photographer Seamus Murphy Directs PJ Harvey Video

We don’t know about you but we wish more rock videos were like “The Last Living Rose” from PJ Harvey. Directed by photographer Seamus Murphy and featuring still and moving images he shot during a 5,000-mile road trip around England, the video is beautiful, evocative, and a fitting showcase for Harvey’s loose, poetic, and rockin’ new tune.

According to Harvey’s website, it’s the first of 12 films from Murphy that will showcase the 12 new songs on her new record, “Let England Shake.”

Looking forward to seeing the next 11.

(Via Dangerous Minds.)

November 30th, 2010

Vampire Weekend, Former Model Close in on Tod Brody

Photographer Tod Brody is under pressure to answer for the use of this album cover photo.

A federal court judge in California has turned up the heat on Tod Brody, the elusive photographer at the center of a lawsuit over an image on the cover of Vampire Weekend’s 2009 2010 “Contra” album.

Brody allegedly licensed a Polaroid image of former model Ann Kirsten Kennis to Vampire Weekend and its record label for use on the album cover and in some concert promotions. Kennis sued the band, the label and Brody last July, alleging unauthorized use of her likeness. In response, Vampire Weekend and its record label counter-sued Brody in August. Any liability is his, the band says in that counter-claim, because Brody warranted that he had all the necessary rights to license the image.

But nobody has been able to find Brody in order to serve him with papers stating the claims against him. So the court has approved a joint request from Kennis, Vampire Weekend, and the band’s record label to serve papers on Brody via e-mail and the U.S. mail. (Normally, court papers have to be served in person.) The court approved the alternate delivery on November 18. Court records show that a summons was issued to Brody on November 24. The court says it will consider Brody in receipt of the papers 10 days from that date.

That sets Brody up for a default judgment if he doesn’t respond to the claims against him by early 2011.

According to the original claim filed last summer by Kennis, Brody charged Vampire Weekend a license fee of $5,000 for the image of Kennis. It is unclear how he obtained the image, which was shot more than 25 years ago. But Vampire Weekend says Brody had claimed in the license agreement that he shot the image.

Kennis, meanwhile, has said that the model release Brody presented to Vampire Weekend was forged. The band’s record label says it “reasonably” relied upon the signed release that Brody provided.

The band also says that Brody claimed that he had “good title and full right and authority” to license the image. Brody “misrepresented certain facts and breached contracts,” Vampire Weekend says in its claim against him. “Responsibility, if any, for damages claimed by [Kennis] rests entirely on Brody.”

Brody referred questions from PDN to his lawyer. That lawyer has so far not responded to a request yesterday afternoon for comment.

October 7th, 2010

Astronaut Sues Dido, Getty Over Album Cover Image

©1984/NASA Mission Specialist Bruce McCandless II "free flying" to a distance of 320 feet from the space shuttle Challenger, February 12, 1984

A former NASA astronaut has filed suit in federal court in Los Angeles, charging British pop star Dido with unauthorized use of the astronaut’s likeness on an album cover. Also named as defendants were Dido’s agent, her record companies, and Getty Images, which allegedly licensed the image.

Bruce McCandless is shown on the cover of Dido’s “Safe Trip Home” album floating in space above planet earth, several hundred feet away from a space shuttle where a fellow astronaut photographed him. The image (shown here) was shot in 1984, when McCandless was testing a nitrogen-powered jet pack that allows astronauts to venture untethered from space shuttles.

McCandless’s face is not recognizable–he is dwarfed by outer space and planet earth in the image, which was shot from afar. But according to his lawsuit, the Dido album cover identifies him as the astronaut in the picture. And the same image (shown at right) appears on NASA’s web site, identifying McCandless as the subject of the photo.

McCandless says in his claim that the use of the image for commercial purposes without his consent is a violation of his right of privacy and publicity. He is seeking a court order to bar the defendants from continuing to use the image, and unspecified monetary damages.

The defendants have not yet responded formally to the suit.

August 16th, 2010

Herman Leonard, Jazz Photographer, Dies at 87

Leonard1 Herman Leonard, who shot iconic images of jazz greats including Duke Ellington, Billie Holiday, Miles Davis and others, died August 14 in Los Angeles. The cause of death was leukemia.  He was 87.

Leonard attended Ohio University to study photography in the 1940s, and served in the medical corps during World War II. After finishing college in 1947, he drove to Ottawa and knocked on the door of Yousuf Karsh. The famous portrait photographer told Leonard he didn’t need an assistant, but they hit it off over lunch, and Leonard ended up apprenticing under Karsh for a year.

“[It was] a most life turning event for me,” Leonard said in a KPBS interview in 2008.

(more…)