T.I. Calls Piracy “Bulls–t,” Then Blatantly Rips Off a Photographer

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August, 2008.

Rapper T.I., discussing the leak of ‘Swagga Like Us’ to MTV News.  

“That’s some bullshit. I’m beating down the internet as we speak.”

“Don’t ruin the event.  Wait till the cake comes out the kitchen before you eat it.  That’s like a kid who sees his toys before Christmas; it takes away from me and I think it takes away from the fans as well.  When it’s time, I’mma give it to you.  They leaked my record with me and The Dream too.  Leakage is never a problem I have had.  I’m not used to it.”

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September, 2015.

T.I. uses a photograph by Trinidadian photographer Laura Ferreira without permission for his Carnivale-themed 35th birthday party on September 25th.  The image was of a Carnivale costume designed by Anya Ayoung-Chee (also a Project Runway winner).

The photographer and designer names are erased, and the photo was used on Facebook, Twitter, as well as throughout the event.

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T.I. eventually offered the following response:

“Obviously & commendably @lauraferreirastudios had the best & most impressively appropriate images that relate to the theme of the party,which lead to the planners using the images. Which in itself is them paying homage to your work.


“Let’s be clear guys. ITS A PARTY INVITE!!!!! Not album or even single artwork, not tee shirts we plan to sell, not framed & sold for our benefit…ITS A PARTY INVITATION GUYS!!!!  I’ve seen world famous photos of worldly iconic figures used to invite people to parties all the time & with the photographs photoshopped & altered which takes away from the integrity of the art.”



Top image by Alex Crick, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC by 2.0).


10 Responses

  1. TI


    WHO THE F…. IS “Laura Ferreira”?!?!?!

    she just want to jump on the bandwaggon….

  2. Tone

    In T.I.’s defense, most people do not understand why photographers should be credited. It’s amazing how many blogs out there don’t credit their photos. I think there’s a larger problem at hand and a change needs to happen industry-wide. Photographers need to stand up for themselves too.

      • Tone

        Yes, but let’s not kid ourselves: more people think that stealing music is wrong than stealing photos. The former has been debated for years whereas the latter doesn’t even get discussed.

        • Mow Ble

          It’s been discussed plenty among photographers, graphic designers, people who use patterns in fabric, etc etc etc. Just because people are ignorant doesn’t mean a subject isn’t discussed, and the outcome of that discussion has been the same as it has been in music – the big fish destroy the little fish, period. Google, Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, GETTY, are ALL enemies and vampire squids living off of creative people, PERIOD.

          Copyright holders need to form their own organizations to sell their own material, organizations that CANNOT be sold to these larger companies. Actually, all fo the above mentioned companies need to broken up antitrust lawsuits, along with foreign conglomerates like Samsung, but a right-wing capitalist Congress and world will never make that happen.

          Face the music, kiddies, you want to change the world, and achieve equality, you better get ready for some really, really direct action.

  3. T. Cooke

    Your mobile site was trying to sell me dresses and things flashing up so I swtiched to desktop. Without social media, she probably would have never found out, and vice versa if she had used his music without permission.

  4. Universal Indie Records

    I seriously doubt T.I. had anything to do with taking this lady’s image. You should blame the graphic designer he paid to create the flyer.

    Most people simply hire a designer to do a flyer, brochure and/or website. Most of graphic designers have a stash of stock photos that they can pull up or subscribe to a service like iStock.com in order to get photos. I know I do.

    So when I freelance and provide imagery for my clients. Unless they’re providing images they’re not asking where I got the images I used.

    They’re simply paying me and receiving an end product. Let’s stop being so judgemental and start using just a tad bit of common sense.

    • JR

      This has NOTHING to do with who is to blame but the attitude that this is JUST an invitation, I could say this is JUST a low budget movie, it is JUST a youtube video, it is ONLY this or that. No one should make the decision that illegal usage is less illegal than something else.
      Market forces are pretty good at setting monetary values to varying uses. The photographer was dismissed and TI’s attitude sucks.

      • Universal Indie Records

        I never stated that it was JUST an invitation. What I did state was that most people who hire designers, especially for something like flyers.. simply provide the wording and leave the design in THAT person’s hand.

        I find offense with the rather salacious title to this story “T.I. Calls Piracy “Bulls–t,” Then Blatantly Rips Off a Photographer” because I can almost guarantee that T.I. simply paid someone to do a job and that’s about the limit of his involvement with the whole issue. This title would have you believe that T.I. is scouring the internet for images, downloading them and then creating the flyer himself which is simply not the case.

        Should this person get paid for the use of her work. Absolutely. But this has more to do with the company he paid to the work than anything.

  5. Anonymous

    She has every right to ask for credit for her work and his response is moronic.

    Just apologise saying it’s out of your control and credit her. It’s a minute out of your day and could make a massive difference to her career