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After a judge said neither side in the lawsuit had a good case, Kendrick Lamar and SZA decided to settle the lawsuit brought by visual artist Lina Iris Viktor over the video for their Black Panther single, "All the Stars." Lamar and SZA had repeatedly tried to get Viktor to agree to license her distinctive artwork to them, which included Egyptian and African symbolism in gold and black paint. But Viktor never agreed, and she sued for actual damages under copyright law.
Nineteen Seconds of Video Can't Be Tied to a Song's Profits, Can It?
At issue was whether visual cues used by Lamar and SZA in the video, which Viktor claimed were hers, were enough to form a basis for monetary damages based on copyright. Defendants claimed that there wasn't a close enough connection between the nineteen seconds of video that uses props potentially copied from Viktor's work, and the album's monetary success, but the judge wasn't sold on that argument. According to District Judge Paul Englemayer, the defendants' arguments were premature and "entirely abstract."
My Artwork's Reputation Has Been Damaged. Show Me the Money!
On the other side of the lawsuit, the plaintiff claimed that she could create a legal theory that could tie non-speculative reputational damages to her works to actual damages, which could be recovered. However, the judge wasn't sold on that argument either. Englemayer stated that Viktor's position offered "limited authority for the theory". Perhaps both sides saw that it was going to be an uphill battle, and neither wanted to deal. Terms of the settlement were not disclosed, and the case has been discontinued.
If you believe your creative works have been copied by someone without your permission, contact a local intellectual property attorney. You may be able to stop them from copying you, and you may be able to get a cut of their profits too. After all, your artwork has a reputation to uphold, and is counting on you!