Ariana Grande is maybe not having the best year…
First, Grammy producers got into a disagreement with her and, by her own doing she’s not on Sunday’s broadcast. (You can read about it her.)
And now she’s charged with ripping off a visual artist in her music video, God is a Woman. Russian-American artist Vladimir Kush accusing Grande of plagiarizing two of his paintings in the video.
Two paintings, The Candle and The Candle 2 (both smartly copyrighted by Kush) show a candle burning in front of a cloudy sky, with a woman in silhouette in place of the wick. The artist wrote on his website,
“A woman holds the torch of the spiritual light dispersing the dark night of ignorance. Inspired by spiritual passion she turns herself to the invisible forces of the cosmos controlling the elements on Earth.”
Grande dances inside the flame of a candle in the video . The artist discovered the resemblance to his own work after encountering a PopSugar post examining visuals.
The lawsuit, filed by Las Vegas entertainment attorney Mark Tratos, notes that Kush was not approached about the use of his work in the video, saying
“This depiction of Ms. Grande is strikingly similar to Plaintiffs’ copyrighted works.
While there are many ways to depict a woman dancing in the wick of a candle—even with a heavenly background—defendants clearly copied Mr. Kush’s expression of this idea. Specifically, defendants chose to use the same color palette, the same background of a cloudy sky, the same ring effect of the clouds around the flame, the same light beams radiating from the flame, and the same color candle, light fading to dark.”
Kush’s lawsuits names several defendants, including the music video’s director, Dave Meyers, and a California company, Freenjoy Inc. The suit alleges both
“were sued in 2018 by another well-known visual artist, Lina Iris Viktor, for copying her distinctive paintings and using them without permission in a music video.”
That case, against Kendrick Lamar and SZA for their music video All the Stars, was settled late last year.
Kush is seeking damages and for the video –which has over 200 million views on YouTube– to be removed from the internet.
Intellectual property attorney, Sam P. Israel, who is not involved in the case, told Artnet News,
“This is a pretty clear-cut case of copyright infringement. Though created decades apart, the two images are practically identical. It’s very likely that Kush will walk away with a strong settlement.
The recent litigation over Kendrick Lamar’s music video casts a long shadow in this case. It’s noteworthy that one of the defendants in the Lamar case is listed in the Grande suit. This defendant has already been through this process and knows a settlement is both likely and probably inevitable.”
You decide. Watch.
(Photos, screen grab, paintings courtesy the artist; via ArtNet)