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Photographer sues Prince estate for copyright infringement

By | Published on Tuesday 26 November 2019


A photographer who collaborated with Prince during the final few years of his life claims that the late musician’s estate has been exploiting her work without licence. Said photographer, Madison Dube, filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against the estate and its associated companies last week.

The lawsuit states that Dube “is a gifted photographer and artist whose work, in 2013, caught the attention of one of the most talented musicians and entertainers of our time, Prince Rogers Nelson, more commonly referred to as Prince”.

Between 2013 and his death in 2016, Prince “became a mentor and friend to Ms Dube. He also hired her on many occasions during that time to provide freelance work, including photography, graphic design, film/videography, voice and other creative”.

None of those projects involved Dube assigning any of the rights in her photography or designs to the musician, the lawsuit adds, because “throughout his life, Prince maintained a strong edict that an artist should retain control over his or her artistry”.

However, the photographer claims, since Prince’s death his estate has used her images on advertising, merchandise, record releases and other promotional material, all without her permission. And, she adds, they knew they were using her work, because in some cases she has been credited as the photographer, and in others a rep for the estate reached out to try to negotiate a licence.

“Ms Dube now brings this action to assert her rights guaranteed under the Copyright Act”, the lawsuit goes on, “and to preserve the integrity of her work, currently being commercialised by defendants and used for mass-marketing, mass-produced sales and advertising, without her consent and contrary to the intent behind the creation of those works”.

The photographer wants an injunction banning future use of her images by the estate and damages for all past uses.