Kendrick Lamar and SZA are calling BS on a copyright infringement lawsuit. Back in February, British-Liberian artist Lina Iris Viktor sued the TDE artists over the official music video for “All the Stars.” The artist claimed the visual—directed by Dave Meyers and the Little Homies—featured elements of her gold-patterned work, and therefore infringed on her copyright.
“Why would they do this?” Viktor told the New York Times earlier this year. “It’s an ethical issue […] Cultural appropriation is something that continually happens to African-American artists, and I want to make a stand.”
Viktor is currently suing for damages as well as a cut of “All the Stars” profits; however, Kendrick and SZA’s legal team insist the artist’s lawsuit is “the epitome of litigation overreach.”
According to legal documents obtained by Pitchfork, the defendants argue that the music video did not use stolen elements from Viktor’s work; and even if it did, the art had no effect on the record’s massive success.
Their motion reads in part:
Common sense and logic dictate that the alleged 19-second use of the Artwork in the Video is far more speculative (and, in any event, no less speculative) a reason for people’s decisions to stream or buy the Single or Album […] Any attempt by Plaintiff to tie such decisions to the alleged use is especially suspect due to the added uncertainty as to whether people who play the Video actually watch it instead of just listening to the audio, and, if they do watch, whether they do so until the final minute when the alleged use occurs.
The document goes on to list Kendrick’s and SZA’s accolades, insisting their popularity and talent is what led “All the Stars” to become so profitable—not the alleged stolen art. They also argue that Viktor’s claim for reputation damages should be dismissed.
Viktor’s attorney responded to the motion with the following statement: “The defendants have filed a motion for partial summary judgment asking the Court to preclude indirect damages, i.e. damages for defendants’ profits from the sale of the single and the album attributable to the infringement in the music video. We have been expecting this motion and we are confident that the law on this issue is in our favor.”