Almost exactly 3 years ago, in 2011, singer Rihanna released her music video for her hit single, ‘S&M.’ A few weeks later, famed fashion photographer, David LaChappelle slapped Rihanna with a lawsuit, claiming that 8 of his images were copied using the “composition, total concept, feel, tone, mood, theme, colors, props, settings, decors, wardrobe and lighting” of his work.
These are just two of the images compared side by side with Rihanna’s video:
The Internet was abuzz with debates of artistic appropriation, coincidence or plagiarism. Rihanna and LaChapelle settled out of court and everyone was happy. Until now.
Rihanna’s S&M video has close to 49 million views and is now facing a possible ban from YouTube and TV worldwide. Fashion photographer, Philipp Paulus has filed a lawsuit for the same video, for the same offense.
The 22 year-old photographer claims that Rihanna’s raunchy ‘S&M’ video uses scenes from his photography series, ‘Paperworld.’ In ‘Paperworld,’ one of the images in the series shows a woman in a red dress pinned against a wall with plastic wrap, surrounding her are big black X marks. Behold, Paulus’ image on the right, a screenshot of Rihanna’s video on the left.
Paulus and his lawyer have been trying to settle out of court with Rihanna and Universal Music Group since 2011, but, though the record company has admitted to similarities, they’ve made no effort to settle out of court, hence the lawsuit.
Why a worldwide celebrity is not able to afford a creative director, who creates individual concepts and staging, is incomprehensible to me…While I really respect Rihanna’s talents as a musician, nevertheless it is important to respect the creations of others, even young talent – and not to copy their work without legitimacy for earning money with it in order to make money.
Here is Rihanna’s ‘S&M’ video. Watch it while you still can.
What are your thoughts? Is this a case of artistic appropriation, another coincidence or blatant plagiarism? Comment below.