Originality in a photograph may be determined by its ?total concept and feel?, rules a judge in a copyright battle between photographer David LaChapelle and the singer Rihanna.

Earlier this year LaChapelle filed a lawsuit against Rihanna, alleging that her raunchy S&M music video was ‘directly derived’ from eight of his images.

The photographer alleges that story boards for the video ?consisted of, or contained? prints of his photos.

LaChapelle, a renowned US fashion photographer, claims that the Rihanna video copied the ‘composition, total concept, feel, tone, mode, theme, colours, props, settings, decors, wardrobe and lighting’.

In a recent pre-trial ruling, held at a court in New York, judge Shira Scheindlin noted that ?copying need not be of every detail so long as the copy is substantially similar to the copyrighted work?.

Scheindlin added: ?Indeed, although the protectability and non-protectability of individual components of the copyrighted photograph must be considered by the Court, ultimately, originality may be determined by the ?total concept and feel? of the photograph.

?In this case, both works share a 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.?

The judge dismissed the photographer?s claims regarding trade dress infringement, unfair competition and unjust enrichment.

Speaking in February, LaChapelle told Amateur Photographer: ‘I really like Riri – this is not personal, strictly business.

‘Musicians commonly pay to sample music or use someone’s beats and there should be no difference when “sampling” artist’s visuals.’

The next hearing is due to take place on 10 August.

To view the evidence presented in court SEE HERE


Photographer sues Rihanna for copyright breach

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