American retail clothing stores Urban Outfitters and Forever 21 are among five companies facing a copyright infringement lawsuit over Tupac merchandise.
Famed entertainment Photographer, Danny Clinch, who worked for the likes of Rolling Stone, The New York Times and Vanity Fair, filed a lawsuit in a New York federal court last week. Clinch’s lawsuit, claims the clothing companies used his images of Tupac Shakur illegally on T-shirts and sold them in their stores. You can view the paperwork here: PDF.
Clinch’s iconic images were featured in a profile of the rapper in Rolling Stone magazine in 1993 and then again on the magazine’s cover in 1996. In 2002 the images were copyrighted by Clinch, giving him sole discretion of when the images can be legally used.
The shirts were produced by a company named Bioworld and licensed through Planet Productions LLC and Amaru/AWA Merchandising Inc. According to filings made in 2012, Amaru/AWA Merchandising Inc. gave Planet Productions permission to use the images on behalf of the copyright holder, however, according to the lawsuit, Clinch did not authorize the use of the image on his behalf.
“Defendants, without the authorization, knowledge or consent of the plaintiff, deliberately and willfully copied, displayed, distributed, and sold the copyrighted photographs on such infringing T-shirts and perhaps other apparel,” the suit states.
The lawsuit, which Clinch calls a “deliberate infringement” of the photo’s copyright, claims each of the defendants earned a substantial profit from the sale of the T-shirts as well as the licensing agreements that were entered into.
In his lawsuit Clinch is seeking $600,000 in damages, the destruction of remaining inventory of T-shirts, and an order prohibiting the companies from further use of the copyrighted image.
Urban Outfitter and Forever 21 are no strangers to being sued for copyright infringement. Earlier this year Puma filed a lawsuit against Forever 21, claiming the company blatantly ripped off several shoe designs from Puma’s collaboration with Rihanna.
And Urban Outfitters was sued by Coachella earlier this year for wrongfully using the “Coachella” brand name on item names and descriptions. The music festival claimed the company infringed on the Coachella trademark and violated trademark law by selling items with the “Coachella” brand name.