The British-Liberian artist Lina Iris Viktor and the rapper Kendrick Lamar have settled their copyright infringement dispute on undisclosed terms. In February 2018 Viktor sued Lamar, SZA, Universal Music Group, and others involved in the production of the music video “All The Stars”. Viktor alleged that the geometric gold leaf shapes inscribed on black paint that appear in roughly 19 seconds of the video bear an undeniable resemblance to specific works from her series “Constellations”.
According to the complaint, Marvel representatives and the company’s PR firm twice approached Viktor seeking permission to use her work, first in November 2016 and then again in December of 2017. The first time, set decorator Jay Hart requested to use one of her paintings in the film itself, but the artist found that the “financial and artistic terms offered for her collaboration were not acceptable,” according to the complaint.
More than a year later, a representative of the DDA, the PR firm working on behalf of Marvel and Disney, contacted Viktor with the idea of creating Black Panther promotional material inspired by the film but Viktor once again declined their offer. According to a letter issued by Viktor’s attorney, the demand that she “enter into an exclusive license for the proposed artworks, thereby foregoing all artistic control,” would affect her inclusion in the upcoming Armory Show. According to the docs, they did it anyway, which she calls “both an egregious violation of federal law and an affront to the artist, her livelihood, her legacy and to artists everywhere. Viktor saw the usage as an insult and requested, at minimum, a public apology and licensing fee.”In her suit, she sought a portion of the profits from the sale of the single and the film’s soundtrack.
“Why would they do this? It’s an ethical issue because what the whole film purports is that it’s about black empowerment [and] African excellence. That’s the whole concept of the story.”–Viktor talking to The New York Times:
Well, time has passed. Mariane Ibrahim-Lenhardt, founder of the Seattle-based gallery Mariane Ibrahim Abdi, which represents Viktor, told the Art Newspaper: “There is a settlement in principle which the parties are finalizing. Lina is happy that it has been resolved, she can now return her focus to her art practice and her upcoming exhibitions in the future.”