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News & Insight

Kylie Jenner & Co. Resolve Copycat Issue, But What Precedent Has Been Set For Photographers?

By Kishore Sawh on January 29th 2017

It was just a few months ago, the end of November to be more precise, when we brought to your attention an issue that hit a little close to home for us here at SLRL, and I’m sure for countless numbers of you. One of our friends and team members, Julia Kuzmenko, and her associate Vlada Haggerty had found themselves on the short end of a piracy/theft-of-work issue, and bringing a manner of weight to the issue was that the offending party was Kylie Jenner and her camp.

Essentially, Kylie by way of her team had taken ‘inspiration’ from the creative efforts of Julia and Vlada far past the point of flattery and right into the arena of theft. The Jenner camp had posted images that were not so much inspired by Vlada and Julia as much as they were discount knock-offs of it – ‘Often imitated never duplicated’ kind of thing – and no comment nor nod to the original was anywhere to be found. Adding salt to the wound too was that this was not the first time Kylie’s camp had done this to Vlada, making them repeat offenders, and thus Vlada and Julia escalated the issue which has now been resolved outside of court. How? Well, we are without all the gritty details but it appears that attribution and praise has been paid with direct mentions and shout outs from Kylie herself to the pair, and in a world of social, that can mean a lot.

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The question though is, is it enough, and what precedent has this set? Is retroactive attribution going to be the standard? This kind of event raises a lot of questions and dialogue on the topic is in no short supply, but the topic has been picked up on outlets as varied as Perez Hilton, Vanity Fair, and MTV, and the discussion around it seems to fall into two categories: Those who think appropriation is enough, and those who think she got off easy.

Also there’s the camp that challenges whether or not replicating a work is grounds for conflict since replication is everywhere. But there’s a distinct difference between someone replicating a style and what was done here, and to that end there’s a difference between someone recreating an image as close to the original as possible for personal use and someone doing so to monetize it. Kylie did this to promote her brand and product.

We all know that the technical execution of most imagery requires a rather common skill-set, whereas the creativity is the uncommon currency, so as I posed before, should the cost of innovation and execution be relegated to accepting this as flattery and eating crow while someone else reaps the rewards?

What do you think? If you had put the time and resources to come up with a set, style and then execute it, if someone else lifted it, especially a celeb, is that okay?

You can check out more from Julia on her site and IG, and Vlada here and more from Julia below:



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A photographer and writer based in Miami, he can often be found at dog parks, and airports in London and Toronto. He is also a tremendous fan of flossing and the happiest guy around when the company’s good.

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