Artnet recently published an article about a lawsuit that Janine “Jah Jah” Gordon filed against artist Ryan McGinley, in which she claims that 150 of McGinley’s photographs infringe her copyrights. Included in the lawsuit is the image on the right below, which was used in a Levi’s advertisement (Levi Strauss is a named co-defendant in the suit – McGinley contributed to Levi ads in video, too, as can be seen here and here.) One of Gordon’s photographs, which she claims was infringed, is on the left.
Janine Gordon is no stranger to copyright complaints. In 2005, Gordon sued 50 Cent and Dr. Dre for copyright infringement, claiming that they stole lyrics from her songs for the 50 Cent album “The Massacre.” Gordon has posted several songs on her YouTube channel, including songs like “Get Da Money,” “More Cheeba,” “Bitch Crack Battle Rap,” and her most recent, “Radioactive.”
The owner of Team Gallery, which represents McGinley, commented on the lawsuit and McGinley’s work in some detail.
While this post gives Gordon additional publicity, which makes me feel a bit uncomfortable, the facts of the case may provide a good in-class example for discussions of idea/expression and substantial similarity.