Lina Iris Viktor, a British-Liberian artist, is accusing Kendrick Lamar of a copyright violation, claiming that her work was used without permission in the video for “All the Stars,” the SZA-assisted single off the Black Panther soundtrack.
Viktor claims that her gold-on-black design, as seen in her “Constellation” series, was copied for the background in scenes from the visual, which was directed by Dave Meyers and the little homies (Kendrick Lamar and Dave Free), according to the New York Times.
Her lawyer has reached out to TDE CEO Anthony “Top Dawg” Tiffith with a letter explaining her complaint. “The infringement of Ms. Viktor’s rights is willful and egregious,” the letter states. She is now 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.”
Viktor claims that the video “incorporates not just the immediately-identifiable and unique look of her work, but also many of the specific copyrightable elements in the ‘Constellations’ series of paintings, including stylized motifs of mythical animals, gilded geometric forms on a black background, and distinctively textured areas and patterns, arrayed in a grid-like arrangement of forms.”
She calls this theft. “Why would they do this?” she asked. “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.” However, Nancy E. Wolff, a copyright lawyer, says that Viktor’s case is “tricky because style is not protected.”
According to her letter, Viktor was contacted by representatives from and/or on behalf of Marvel, the comic book titan behind Black Panther twice in recent years. The first time, she says she was reached by Jay Hart, a set decorator, to feature “Constellations I” in the movie back in November 2016. In December 2017, she claims that she was asked to participate in a promotional campaign for the film. She claims she rejected both offers. It is unclear whether a similar design appears in the film.
Black Panther: The Album dropped on Friday, featuring appearances from 2 Chainz, ScHoolboy Q, Future, Jay Rock, James Blake, and Jorja Smith. The Ryan Coogler-directed film is set to hit theaters this Friday (Feb. 16).