Legendary rock singer Rod Stewart has joined the growing list of celebrity musicians being sued for copyright infringement. The case follows incidents involving Bruno Mars and Jessica Simpson, who both became embroiled in high-profile copyright court cases. Unlike his peers, Stewart is accused of using imagery for a gig backdrop without permission.
British photographer Julia McLellan, from Hatfield Peverel, UK, is seeking the rather specific amount of £9,999.99 (approx. $12,853.87). The legal battle stems from Stewart using a photo of himself with an ex-girlfriend as a gig backdrop.
According to McLellan, repeated attempts were made to acquire the due fee from Stewart’s team, but her requests fell on deaf ears. After failing to make progress, she sought legal action.
In an interesting turn, McLellan did not actually take the photo, but rather, acquired the copyright to it back in 2004. She claims the photographer, Christopher Southwood, a close friend of Stewart, did give the singer a copy of the image as a keepsake, but in her own words, McLellan says, “That's very different from using it commercially.” What she is referring to is Stewart’s usage of the photo as part of a video backdrop at BBC2's "Live in Hyde Park: A Festival in a Day" concert.
Stewart’s camp have hit back, stating McLellan’s claims seek "an absurd level of damages for a totally innocent, brief, and incidental use by Sir Rod of a personal snapshot as part of another, more substantial, artistic work".
McLellan has stated she will split any winnings with photographer Southwood. The case continues.
Who is in the right?
Lead image credit: Joe Bielawa via Flickr CC.