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Kendrick Lamar's video (on the left) and Lina Iris Viktor's artwork (on the right)
Kendrick Lamar's video (on the left) and Lina Iris Viktor's artwork (on the right)

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Artist settles lawsuit with Kendrick Lamar over Black Panther video copy claims

Rapper Kendrick Lamar has settled a lawsuit with a British artist who accused him of copying visuals from her paintings in a music video.

Lamar was sued by artist Lina Iris Viktor who accused Lamar of a copyright violation of the gold, patterned artworks in her series of paintings "Constellations". The visuals appeared in a 19-second clip in the music video.

Viktor said she was previously approached by the creators of the movie Black Panther to use imagery from her work in the movie, but she rejected them because she felt the agreement was too restrictive. She said Marvel’s public relations team approached her again after but she said no to their request too.

She later found out that her work had been copied in "All The Stars", the music video for the song by Kendrick Lamar and SZA in Black Panther's soundtrack.

The music video featured scenes of golden patterns resembling Viktor's work, floating against a black background, female models coloured in gold, and an overall use of African and ancient Egyptian imagery.

Viktor was seeking damages in the form of a cut of the profits, but she is “apparently ineligible for statutory damages on account of the lack of registration of her works as of the time of the alleged infringement,” wrote the judge in his ruling.

As Viktor did not copyright her works she was not eligible for statutory damages, which is a straightforward amount decided by the court. That is why she was trying to get indirect profits and actual damages. She eventually settled the matter with Lamar for an undisclosed amount.

There is a theme that runs through the process of big companies when they infringe on the copyright of Creators – they usually ask for permission from the Creator, and when rejected, or balking at the proposed price, proceed to go ahead and infringe on the copyright anyway.

This can be seen in Netflix being sued by the publisher of Choose Your Own Adventure books, Joan Jett's record label suing a payroll company for ripping off her famous song "I Love Rock N Roll", or Bobby Brown suing Showtime over unauthorized use of footage featuring him.

Viktor's case is a lesson to Creators to register their work with PitchMark. 

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Mark Laudi

Mark Laudi

Press contact Managing Partner (+65) 6223 2249

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