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Judge declines summary judgement in dispute over Kendrick Lamar video

By | Published on Friday 26 October 2018

Kendrick Lamar - Damn

Kendrick Lamar has experienced a setback in a legal battle with visual artist Lina Iris Viktor relating to a copyright dispute over images that appeared in the video to ‘All The Stars’, his collaboration with SZA that featured on the ‘Black Panther’ soundtrack.

Viktor argues that Lamar and his associates infringed her copyrights by incorporating some of her distinctive artworks into a nineteen second segment of the pop promo. This despite her repeatedly refusing to grant permission to Disney and Marvel to incorporate the visuals into the ‘Black Panther’ movie itself.

The artist sued in February, and then in July legal reps for Lamar filed a motion to have some elements of the lawsuit dismissed. That motion related to Viktor’s demands for damages and some complexities around how any such damages might be calculated.

Viktor is not eligible for the statutory damages that can usually be sought in American infringement cases because, despite being based in New York, her artworks were not registered with the US Copyright Office at the time of the alleged infringement.

Instead she is seeking the profits Lamar et al made from the infringement and compensation for the reputation damage Viktor suffered by having her artworks included in the music video. But Lamar’s lawyers were hoping to have both those claims dismissed through summary judgement on the basis there’s no way to link Viktor’s artwork to the profits made by ‘All The Stars’ and no proof that the video damaged the artist’s reputation.

The judge overseeing the case this week agreed that Viktor still needed to prove both the link between the use of her visuals and the monies Lamar’s track generated and that the music video had damaged her reputation. However, he said that it would be wrong to reject Viktor’s claims at this point when both sides are still gathering evidence.

Judge Paul A Engelmayer added that, in the previous cases that had been cited by Lamar’s lawyers in their arguments against Viktor’s claim for damages, judgements had only been reached after a “close review of a fully developed fact record”. With that in mind, “a similar approach” was required in this case, he said, “as opposed to granting summary judgment”.

And so the case continues.