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Get Da Money

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.

6 thoughts on “Get Da Money”

  1. Palli Davis Holubar

    Really! The images only remotely relate- 2 humans with both arms spread from their torsos with their heads raised upward. That’s the extent of the similarity. A simple visual analysis of each image clearly shows distinct differences. Any interpretative reading of each image separates them conclusively.
    This is merely an exercise in visual contrast (not “and comparison”).
    Does Jah Jah look at her own work and respect it?
    Apparently not.

  2. I’m just catching up on this, but I’m somewhat amazed that Gordon’s lawyers would cite to the Laddie Prescott “The Modern Law of Copyright and Designs” book. It’s is a British book. Read some of the cases on idea/expression in the UK and you’ll see that the doctrine there is nothing like the US doctrine. It’s not even remotely applicable, and from the article it seems like it’s a foundational part of Gordon’s argument. Not good for them (the remaining issues aside).

    1. It makes you wonder whether it’s the result of poor lawyering, or desperation.

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