Artist Sues Kendrick Lamar & SZA for Copyright Infringement Over ‘All The Stars’ Video
Earlier this month, British-Liberian artist Lina Iris Viktor made a bold statement by accusing Kendrick Lamar of copyright infringement and cultural appropriation. “Cultural appropriation is something that continually happens to African-American artists, and I want to make a stand,” she said to the New York Times, stating the rapper stole her series of gold-patterned paintings, Constellations, and used them in the "All The Stars" video made for Black Panther: The Album. On Wednesday (February 21), the artist filed a lawsuit with not only Lamar, but SZA, who contributed to the song and visuals, too.
Viktor claims she was contacted multiple times by Black Panther representatives asking permission to feature her work. She ultimately refused in order to retain creative control of her art. However, there is a scene in the disputed video that looks an awful lot like Constellations. The 19-second-long segment, starting at the 2:59 mark, shows Lamar walking behind a group of women posed in front of gold-patterned geometric shapes.
Upon viewing the video, the artist sent a letter to Lamar and his record label, Top Dawg Entertainment, in which her lawyer, Christopher Robinson, stated she was “willing to discuss a resolution of all her claims, consisting at a minimum of a public apology for the unauthorized use and a license fee."
In a new statement Robinson states “We tried to resolve this without litigation. Now that we are in Court, we are confident that Ms. Viktor will prevail.”
On Monday, Viktor went to social media to address the matter and thank her fans for all their support. "Feel reassured - I am seeking justice," the lengthy Instagram caption read.
Although Viktor's team seems pretty confident in their case, a copyright lawyer Nancy E. Wolff told New York Times that proving copyright infringement is actually harder than you may think. “It’s really tricky because style is not protected,” Wolff said, “but I can see why everyone assumed this artist was involved.” She went on to explain that Lamar's team will most likely argue that the scenes in "All The Stars" are not exact replicas of Constellations and just look that way because of the stark gold and black contrast.
Watch "All The Stars" below and make sure to pay close attention at the 2:59 mark.