Rihanna sued by celeb photographer David LaChapelle over 'S&M' video

Rihanna-SM-video-LaChapelleFamed celeb photographer David LaChapelle filed a lawsuit against pop diva Rihanna on Feb. 14 in New York over the images in her sexy “S&M” music video, which was released about two weeks ago, according to Reuters. The shutterbug is claiming that what’s on screen in the candy-colored clip are “directly derived” from pictures he’s shot. LaChapelle is famous for his work, taking photos of celebrities for magazines such as Rolling Stone, GQ, and Vanity Fair. His suit claims that “the music video is directly derived from and substantially similar to the LaChapelle works.” He goes on to say that Rihanna stole eight images for the video, which copied the “composition, total concept, feel, tone, mood, theme, colors, props, settings, decors, wardrobe and lighting of his work.”

An image from Rihanna’s “S&M” video is shown here, and after the jump, you can find a similar-looking shot from a LaChapelle photo shoot, as well as the full video for “S&M.”

David LaChapelle

A spokesperson at Rihanna’s record label has yet to return an email request seeking comment.

Tanner on Twitter: @EWTanStransky

The Music Mix on Twitter: @EWMusicMix

More from EW.com:
Rihanna and her leashed pet Perez Hilton get naughty in ‘S&M’ video: Watch here

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  • matt

    Fail!! About time someone sued this fake b*tch

    • B

      Still bitter, Chris?

      • MissVampireDiaries

        Chris Brown loves Rihanna, he wouldn’t sue her.

      • Bama

        MissVampire: If Chris loved her, he would NOT have beat her. Only someone very sick would think so.

      • MT

        Chris is way better out of Rihanna’s claws. Don’t you wonder why we don’t see her with Katy anymore? She’s always on to the next best thing. That’s why Nicky is in her radar right now.
        If Chris goes back to Rihanna then shame on him, that’s all I’m saying.

    • annoyomous

      agrrreeeeed!

  • D2

    She credited him with inspiring the vid a week ago..

    • lauren

      she credited him after he called her out!

      • whoa…really?

        wouldn’t this be the director’s fault? or are we supposed to believe this was both rihanna’s idea and direction? shouldn’t they be suing the creative director of the shoot and not rihanna? just saying…

      • Brenden

        If Rihanna is the one falsely profitting from the vid, SHE’s the one that owes the money back.
        CLOWN.

      • MT

        The director is the same lady who “got inspired” by one of M.I.A’s video for Rihanna’s “Rude Boy”. Rihanna should have paid attention. She’s (supposed to be)an artist, creativity and artwork are also part of the job.

  • kat

    I find this fascinating. I’m studying art right now, and one of the first things you notice when you get to the art of last century (well, and earlier, but it becomes really blatant in the last century), everyone copies and steals from everyone else. Appropriation is nothing new. I can’t remember off the top of my head if anyone in the art world has been successfully sued over it. Be interested to see how this one turns out, since music is viewed separately of visual art in most people’s minds, despite both being part of The Arts.

    • Julian

      A video is a visual art so wouldn’t be “viewed separately”.

      Also, there are various levels of being “inspired”. Basically infringement comes down to a judgement call, but any true artist knows the difference. If you are planning a video and can’t think of what to do and search for photos and then recreate them closely that is infringement and failure as an artist. Another important thing to consider is the money and professional angle — amateur artists of course copy a lot as practice and sometimes later they become famous and people will say “that guy copied”, but this case is a professional videographer who is being paid big bucks for a widely viewed video who is copying. Much worse from an artistic integrity point of view. This guy definitely has a case, and any artist can see it right away.

      • kat

        “If you are planning a video and can’t think of what to do and search for photos and then recreate them closely”
        And how do you know that’s what happened? People appropriate other images and references from popular culture for all kinds of reasons. Ever heard the quote “good artists copy, great artists steal”? From a legal standpoint of course I understand what he’s claiming. And any artist who works with appropriated source material is going to know it’s a risk going in. But frankly it doesn’t sound like you know much about the art world and how it works. But the art world I’m referring too, the fine art world, is very different and has very different rules from the ‘regular’ world. And while it is a visual, mainstream music videos are not generally counted as fine art. Hence me being curious how this will play out being in a ‘separate’ part of the art world.

    • Brenden

      You sound like a pathetic child, “kat”.
      You have NO CLUE how copyright infringement works.
      You should just pipe the hell down.

  • Brit

    Is it even legal to sue for this? It’s kinda like being sued for taking notes in art school. The photographer should be happy that he inspired Rihanna’s video. Besides, nothing is totally original these days. Everything is a derivative of something that came before. Besides, he really shouldn’t be suing Rihanna, he should sue the director. Sounds like sour rapes to me. Madonna never got sued, neither did Lady Gaga or other pop stars who borrowed art. Actually, Madonna did get sued for the “Hollywood” video, but that’s only because the video was very specific to the inspiration. Leave the girl alone, people these days sue over anything. Did Madonna sue Gwen Stefani? Did anyone sue Beyonce for her “Single Ladies” video? NO! Let it be.

    • Julian

      No when you are “taking notes in art school” you are not making tens of millions of dollars and your notes are not going to be viewed by millions. A professional doing this amount of copying is way over the line. It is always a judgement call, but copying something like 10% might be called derivative, but copying something like 50% is just copying. For example, in the scene with the clowns if the videographer had gone for totally different look (e.g. Cirque de Soleil type clowns) then they would be still copying the concept, but not the look and tone, etc. and maybe it would be more acceptable. In this case not only did the videographer copy one scene he copied several and indeed took way to much from them.

    • Britt

      Clearly you know nothing of copyright. Yes it is definitely legal to sue for infringement and he can and should win damages for this. The director for this video used LaChapelle images DIRECTLY throughout the entire video and there wasn’t even enough variation or originality to make it a derivative rather than a direct copy. So much so that his fans thought he had actually directed the video which is a big factor in copyright infringement lawsuits. It wouldn’t even have been so bad if they had used say, one of his photographs, but there are so many scenes in the video that are exactly the same in look, style, and overall feel that it is just not fair for her to call it an original video. Someone even said that the director had LaChapelle photographs lying around the set for ‘inspiration,’ but apparently there wasn’t enough because these are pretty much straight LaChapelle. He will and should win damages. The only thing that could save her is if they agree to settle.

    • Brenden

      Why BABBLE on after your initial question about the legality?
      Your guess-work is not wanted you dithering fool.

      • Class

        LOL! “Brenden” it seems as though you have no creative, artistic, or entertainment insight. You’ve commented twice without offering any solid explanation to any person who has commented so far. Good luck finding your purpose in life. Oh and by the way next time, before you decide to be a smarta**, you should read a little closer. Even though the names are similar, “Brit” and “Britt” are definitely two different names…two different people. LOL “you dithering fool”. SMH

      • Danuve

        “dithering fool?”

        perhaps its you who needs some piping down, troll

  • seb

    Wow, SUE her.

  • Rachel

    Wrong. Madonna got sued a lot for using people’s artwork and photography as “inspiration.” She got sued for song lyrics, too. She has about 20 or more lawsuits against her.

    • Neil

      You’re full of crap.

    • Neil

      Totally untrue.

      • Patrick

        That is correct Madonna has been sued numerous times for copyright infringement.

      • Amanda

        It is true. She was sued by Guy Bourdin because of “stealing” and I can recall at least 6 or 7 other times

  • Carol

    Beyonce said a lot when Single Ladies came out that Bob Fosse’s wife partially inspired the choreography. It’s not all Fosse, though. Some of it was J-Setting. She mentioned where that came from, too. Nobody is perfect with citing everything, but Beyonce pretty much does tell people where she got most of her inspiration from.

    • Wero

      Ils ont bien de la cchnae tes loulous d'avoir une maîtresse comme toi !

  • Tara

    From my understanding, there were photos of LaChapelle’s photos laying around the set. Rihanna and her director were not giving credit to LaChapelle first until he let his displeasure be known.

  • Jonathan

    Shouldn’t Madonna Sue Then Too.

    • Patrick

      Do you mean Lady Gaga for Born This Way?

  • David

    This lawsuit has no legal merit. The images in Rihanna’s video are not substantial reproductions of LaChapelle’s photographs, and there is no copyright in the “concept”, “feel” or “tone” of a photograph.

  • Patrick

    It was also a shoot that LaChapelle did with Lil Kim I believe. It resembled a scene in the video. I think he has a good case. As somebody said, there were photos of his work lying around the video set.

  • Lena

    Rihanna should’ve been sued for copying MIA’s Boyz video for the Rude Boy video.

  • Sonia

    I’m interested to see the outcome of this case and the lawsuit against the HurtLocker Producers. If you can’t use someone elses work as “inspiration” then every movie, commercial, and music video can be sued. LaChapelle has to prove that his pictures were on the set. And I’d be curious to see if he can legally sue Rihanna directly or if he has to sue the record label who technically owns the copyrights to the video.

    • Julian

      If there was only one scene that was similar then you’re right there would be merit in determining whether his picture were “on the set”, but since there are multiple scenes all similar then it is quite obvious where the “inspiration” was coming from. So then the court case is not about that fact, but rather only about if the copying was sufficient for infringement.

      • Sonia

        Precedent is definitely on his side. Madonna got sued for doing the same thing and lost. I think she used 6 pictures for her Hollywood video but she only paid $600,000 in damages. The difference here being that Madonna at the time owned her record label (Maverick). In this case, Rihanna does not own the rights to the video so I’m wondering if she can be sued directly or if LaChapelle has to sue her label. Also, as for the pictures being on set I think it does matter and he does have to prove it. Because unlike the Madonna video that could have been set and designed anywhere, this is for a song called S&M. So I think a lot of the tone and the poses are not unique at all to LaChapelle and his work. Anyone who has ever taken a bondage photo could sue. So he’d have to be able to prove that they were using specific images and not just recreating classic scenes and poses. Based on the comparisons there are a few pictures that could fall into that “classic S&M” category. But I think there are more that look like direct copies. If he could prove that the pictures were on set then I think he’d get everything he’s asking for in the lawsuit. Otherwise it gets a little harder.

  • Gail

    There was a song/video by Neneh Cherry called “Buffalo Stance.” Both MIA’s “Boyz” and Rihanna’s “Rude Boy” look extremely similar to that video.

  • Nelly

    I think he was every right to sue her.

    Now Madonna needs to sue Lady Gaga for riping off Express Yourself.

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