Kendrick Lamar Must Face a Black Panther Copyright Infringement Suit, Judge Rules

Kendrick Lamar won’t escape so easily from ‘borrowing’ a visual artist’s unique work.

A federal judge has ruled against Kendrick Lamar’s request for a win in a copyright infringement lawsuit.

At the United States District Court of the Southern District of New York, District Judge Paul A. Englemayer ruled against the popular hip-hop artist’s motion for partial summary judgment.

Lina Iris Viktor, a British/Liberian artist based in New York, first filed a lawsuit in February against Universal, Kendrick Lamar, SZA, Top Dawg Entertainment, Interscope, and others.  She alleged Kendrick Lamar’s ‘All The Stars’ music video for Black Panther featured her distinctive artwork.  These included Egyptian and African symbolism in gold and black paint.

Viktor isn’t eligible for statutory damages as she hadn’t copyrighted her works at the time of the infringement.  Instead, the artist has sought actual damages under copyright law.  The defendants, she claims, have indirectly profited from her original work.

According to Lamar, Viktor shouldn’t receive any profits from the Black Panther album.  A casual nexus simply doesn’t exist between the use of her work and the album’s profits.

Judge Engelmayer found Lamar’s arguments premature and “entirely abstract” in this early stage of the case.  Engelmayer added he still can’t say whether Viktor will receive a share of the profits from the album and Lamar’s single.

He noted Viktor has offered “limited authority for the theory that, if she is able to offer non-speculative evidence that her infringed works have been reputationally diminished, she will be able to recover actual damages for these injuries.”

In a statement, Viktor’s lawyer, Christopher J. Robinson, praised the ruling.

We are pleased that the court has agreed that defendants’ attempt to rule out the possibility of any damages from the sales of the ‘All the Stars’ single and the Black Panther soundtrack is grossly premature at this early stage of the litigation.  Now, we will have the opportunity to examine the revenue to the music defendants from the exploitation of this infringing music video and seek the full measure of defendants’ profits that plaintiff is entitled to.

You can check out the ruling below.


Featured image by Merlijn Hoek (CC by 2.0).

One Response

  1. Edward Elric

    These money hungry black women are always trying to keep a brother down. I bet she hasn’t gone after anyone white, while making Egyptian and African art, but then using the system to take from another black man.