by Mike Masnick
Tue, Feb 15th 2011 10:38am
This is bizarre. Shocklee points us to the news that celebrity photographer David LaChapelle is suing singer Rihanna, claiming that the video of her latest song, "S&M" is "directly derived" from his photographs. I haven't seen the full lawsuit filing (anyone got it?), so I don't know all of the details of what's being alleged, but the derivative claims sound like a standard copyright claim. A few news sources have compared the video and the photos, and while they're similar and the photos certainly may have inspired the scenes in the video, they certainly don't look like direct copies in any way. Here are a few examples, video on the left, photos on the right.
I'm having trouble understanding how any of these would be considered copyright infringing. Sure, they may be homages to the original photos, but that shouldn't be infringing. Remember, copyright is only supposed to cover the specific expression, and not the idea. In all of these examples, it looks like the specific expression is quite different, even if the idea is similar. Why not just be happy with the flattery and move on? Of course, some will say that the press attention from the lawsuit is probably the reason why, and perhaps that's true, even if it's an incredibly cynical view on the world.
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