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Rihanna Sued by Photographer David LaChapelle Over Music Video

By Jason Beahm on February 16, 2011 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Rihanna may want to grab an Umbrella to protect herself from the storm of a litigation being brought on by photographer David LaChapelle.

The famous photographer alleges that Rihanna's music video S&M was "directly derived" from pictures that he took, Reuters reports. LaChapelle filed the copyright lawsuit in New York. He is suing over the Rihanna S&M video for unspecified damages.

LaChapelle has photographed hundreds of celebrities and his pictures have appeared in Vanity Fair, Rolling Stone and GQ. Rihanna has sold over 25 million albums and won a Grammy this week for her track, Only Girl (In the World).

The Rihanna S&M video and the single that accompanies it have been controversial and have not made much of a dent on the charts. The video has been banned in a number of countries due to its sexual content. LaChapelle specifically says in the lawsuit that Rihanna stole eight images for the video, copying the "composition, total concept, feel, tone, mood, theme, colors, props, settings, decors, wardrobe and lighting of his work."

LaChapelle is likely to have an uphill battle in this case. Copyright law does not protect ideas. Copyright gives the owner of a photograph the sole right to publish the photo, but that doesn't mean that another person can't take their photo as inspiration and incorporate it into a new project. By contrast, in order to prevail LaChapelle would nearly have to prove that Rihanna used his images or directly derived them from his photos.

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