Kendrick Lamar and SZA are being sued by an artist who claims her artwork has been used in the video for their Black Panther song All the Stars without her permission.
British-Liberian artist Lina Iris Viktor alleges that the video tries to recreate the "unique look and feel" of her fine art pieces, entitled Constellations I, Constellations II and Constellations III, while also using "specific copyrightable elements" such as "stylised motifs of mythical animals, gilded geometric forms on a black background, and distinctively textured areas and patterns".
Viktor also claims that the decision to feature her pieces in the video came after she was contacted by representatives for Black Panther twice. According to the lawsuit, movie bosses got in touch in 2016 and in January (18), to ask her to either lend her work to the film or create something new for it. However, Viktor said no - which means their decision to use the pieces in the All the Stars video is "both an egregious violation of federal law and an affront to the artist, her livelihood, her legacy and to artists everywhere".
Viktor also pointed out the irony of the case in her suit - that Black Panther promotes the themes of black and female empowerment, yet she's a black, African woman and had her wishes ignored.
"Why would they do this? It’s an ethical issue, because what the whole film purports is that it’s about black empowerment, African excellence — that’s the whole concept of the story. And at the same time they’re stealing from African artists," she said during a telephone interview with The New York Times.
She is suing for damages, and has requested the judge grant an injunction which would prevent Lamar and SZA from using her artwork to promote the movie soundtrack.
The suit comes after Viktor's lawyer Christopher Robinson sent a letter to Lamar's mentor and record label head, Top Dawg Entertainment's Anthony Tiffith, on Saturday, alerting him to the copyright violation and stating that Viktor was "willing to discuss a resolution of all her claims, consisting at a minimum of a public apology for the unauthorised use and a license fee".
A new statement issued to Pitchfork by Viktor's legal team read: "We tried to resolve this without litigation. Now that we are in Court, we are confident that Ms. Viktor will prevail."