Photographer David LaChapelle’s suit against Rihanna for copyright infringement can now go to trial reports PDN. LaChapelle had argued that storyboards used for Rihann’s promo S&M produced by Black Dog films and directed by Matsoukas had even consisted of prints of his work. Rihanna’s team had tried to argue that the references to LaChappelle’s work was ‘fair use’. A ruling by Judge Shira A. Scheindlin of the US District Court in New York means we may look forward to months of weighing up the interior design of Sado-Masochist scenes to see how similar they are.
But reading the ruling from Judge Scheindlin, photographers, artists and art directors could look forward to a legal debate around creativity. In an age of sampling and quotation Judge Scheindlin’sruling, while occasionally hard-work is a fascinating reflection on legal definitions of creative originality. Here’s a taster:
“…Originality may be determined by the ‘total concept and feel’ of the photograph. In this case, both works share the frantic and surreal mood of women dominating men in a hyper- saturated, claustrophobic domestic space. Thus, I find that an ordinary observer may well overlook any differences and regard the aesthetic appeal of “Striped Face” and the “Pink Room Scene” as the same.”
And arguing why elements within LaChappelle’s work should be considered ‘protectible’ she writes, “LaChapelle’s “Latex” and the Video’s “Pink Hood Scene” both depict a woman wearing a latex hood. While this subject is emblematic of S&M attire and thus not protectible, both works also feature: the woman in profile from close- up, with the frame cropped tight on her head; striking, direct lighting with no shadow; a highly saturated blue background; and the woman’s mouth open and a small object on her tongue. Because the choice of camera position, composition, the model’s expression, lighting, saturation, and color constitute “the original way in which [LaChapelle] has ‘selected, coordinated, and arranged’ the elements” of his work, an ordinary observer could find substantial similarity between these protectible elements in “Latex” and the “Pink Hood Scene.”
To read the ruling in full
Music stock photos from Image Source.