Kendrick Lamar is at the center of a copyright scandal for his music video “All The Stars.” A young British-Liberian artist named Lina Iris Viktor has filed a case against the singer and his team for using artistic ideas and styles from her series “Constellation.”
Just compare Viktor’s image Constellation 1 (top) to a still frame from Lamar’s video. The resemblance is striking.
Image 1: Constellation 1 by Lina Viktor
Image 2: Kendrick Lamar & SZA – “All the Stars”, steel from the YouTube video
“All the Stars” is a song from the soundtrack of the triumphant Marvel’s “Black Panther”, the first comic movie about a black superhero. It is even more outrageous that the movie aimed to celebrate black people’s uniqueness got into a case of stealth of a black painter’s creative work.
Viktor and her managers claim she was repeatedly contacted by representatives from Marvel and Disney seeking to the rights for the series, but she refused to sell. She says the companies wanted to obtain exclusive rights to her work while she was preparing to show it at a big solo exhibition supposed to be a milestone for the young painter’s career. Defendant’s side might appeal to the fact that visual style is not a subject of intellectual property. Yet, Viktor’s works were copied almost literally, so the artist has significant chances of winning. Intellectual property law is dicey and open to interpretation. This artist’s case could go either way, but we’ll be following along in any event.