A Snoop Dogg Photograph Puts the Recording Academy In Legal Hot Water

Christopher Markisz lawsuit against NARAS over a Snoop Dogg photograph
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A New York photographer has filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against the Recording Academy over a Snoop Dogg photograph.

In the filing, which was submitted in the U.S. District Court in Manhattan on January 29th, Christopher Markisz and the Liebowitz Law Firm argue that the Recording Academy unlawfully posted a “copyrighted photograph of rapper Snoop Dog [sic]” on the Grammys’ website and Instagram account.

The lawsuit claims that the Recording Academy (aka the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences, or NARAS) “did not license the Photograph” and didn’t receive the “Plaintiff’s permission or consent to publish the Photograph.” Additionally, it’s alleged that Markisz’s watermark, bearing his name and a copyright symbol, was “cropped off” the shot of Snoop Dogg.

Compensation-wise, the document says that Markisz is entitled to a piece of the Recording Academy’s profits, “statutory damages up to $150,000 per work,” and a reimbursement for legal fees. If these requests are denied, the filing indicates that Markisz may seek damages “of at least $2,500 up to $25,000” for a number of alleged violations (not solely including the photograph’s use).

The image initially appeared alongside a Grammy.com article that was published on December 5th, 2019. At the time of this report’s writing, the photo was still live on Instagram and Grammy.com; Markisz only received a photographer credit on the latter.

This lawsuit is the latest in a series of setbacks for the Recording Academy, whose ousted CEO, Deborah Dugan, came forward with allegations of corruption, sexual harassment, and a sexual-assault coverup, just days before the 62nd Grammys.

In what appears to be direct response to the ugliness, Taylor Swift, Beyoncé, and Jay-Z boycotted the ceremony. All three were given high-profile seating assignments at the event, according to a CBS seating chart, but canceled just days before the show. Beyoncé and Jay-Z were still in Los Angeles, and didn’t cancel their attendance at a Roc Nation event and Clive Davis’ splashy pre-Grammy party.

While receiving the Industry Icon Award, Diddy claimed that “black music has never been respected” by the Recording Academy while urging a boycott of the event. That was hardly an isolated protest. After taking home an award for ‘Best Rap Album,’ Tyler, the Creator criticized the Grammys’ nomination standards and categories, calling the “urban” and “rap” categories euphemisms for “the n-word”.

The Recording Academy hasn’t publicly responded to Markisz’s lawsuit. Indeed, given the general dysfunctionality at the Recording Academy, it’s unclear how coordinated the response will be.

Is anybody home?

4 Responses

  1. Thor Eriksen

    Only in America!! Snoop Dog..the bloody name days it all and the crap that is rap!!
    Why would anybody who is so bloody rich go after somebody because he posted a copy right picture..???

    My post is full of them Copyright means to lock something up so nobody can get any enjoyment from it…Have you ever tried to get permission to …publish a copy right photo.?. I though so !! We should be like Asia where copy right means copy anything…

    • Mike Allen

      Snoop Dogg didn’t file the lawsuit. The photographer that took the picture…Who owns the rights to the picture…Filed the lawsuit. It happens all the time on the web now. If you post a picture without permission there are lawyer trolls who make a fortune hunting them down and suing.

      • Sir Poopster

        If Snoop Dogg wants too, he can be listed as 50% owner of the copyright because he’s in the picture.

  2. SmarterThanYou

    Low information commentors above. Readers beware lol