Rihanna sued by photographer over “S&M” music video. Again.
posted Thursday, February 20, 2014 at 2:59 PM EDT
In 2011, singer Rihanna was sued by famed photographer David LaChapelle due to similarities between the music video for her song "S&M and his photography (warning, adult content in the link). In October of that year, there was a settlement between the two parties, but now, three years later, another long simmering legal battle is rearing its ugly head.
This time, photographer Philipp Paulus is alleging that Rihanna plagiarized a very specific piece of his work. In his Paperworld series, he had an image of a woman in a red dress, held up against a wall by plastic wrap covered with black tape Xs—an image you can see here. It's a look that's very closely mirrored in the music video, embedded below.
It might seem like waiting such a long time since the video came out is a bizarre move, but Paulus and his lawyer have actually been involved in this dispute since before the earlier settlement. Back in 2011 they first brought up these charges. However, apparently Rihanna and Universal Music have been unwilling to negotiate with the photographer for an out of court settlement, and now Paulus has filed claims for damages and an injunction.
Paulus' lawyer Philip Jakober told the Daily Mail:
"The ludicrous thing about this situation is that Universal Music has for some time been bringing about a wave of lawsuits against end users for copyright infringements, yet as far as our case is concerned the usage from the photo series 'Paperworld' by Philipp Paulus in the music video 'S&M' is a serious and worldwide infringement of copyright, which is the responsibility of Universal Music."
It's hard to argue against the similarities between the two images—especially the use of black tape against the clear plastic, which are an incredibly distinctive look. But we'll see if Universal is now willing to settle, or if this legal battle will keep raging on.