There’s no denying that Tupac Shakur’s music helped create the soundtrack for the nineties. His heavy hitting lyrics and smooth, yet unrefined style is still being imitated today. Big name retailers Forever 21 and Urban Outfitters are currently under fire for using an image of Tupac copyrighted by the photographer back in 2002.Danny Clinch, the photographer who took the recently mishandled photograph of rapper, Tupac, is taking on retail giants Forever 21 and Urban Outfitters in a recent copyright infringement case filed in New York on May 31st of 2017. Clinch doesn’t stop there. Included in the lawsuit are other parties, including Tupac’s official merchandising company.
The lawsuit claims that the images used were licensed to Planet Productions in 2012 by Amaru/AWA Merchandising in an agreement that stated Amaru was acting on behalf of the photographer. In response, Clinch says he in fact did not give Amaru consent to license the images. He goes on to state that Planet did not use due diligence in getting the proper information regarding ownership of the copyrights.
Bioworld, who created and sold the t-shirts to the above mentioned retailers, used the 1996 Rolling Stone cover shot featuring Tupac with his hands behind his back.
Between the licensing fees and the revenue generated from Forever 21 and Urban Outfitters by selling the shirts, the damages sought after are in excess of $600,000. On top of that, the lawsuit asks that any remaining inventory be destroyed. As if the $600k wasn’t enough, destroying any left over inventory should teach ‘em. Right? Maybe not. This isn’t the first time Forever 21 has been under fire for something like this.
Issues like this don't seem to be uncommon. It raises the question whether or not you are doing enough to protect your images, and whether or not you're checking up on the use of images that were, in this case, taken over 15 years ago.