Artist Sues Rihanna Over ROCKSTAR 101 Video

Another multi-million dollar plagiarism case against the musician.

Rihanna in Rockstar 101 via: Straight From The A

The American artist James Clar has started a legal battle with Rihanna, accusing the pop singer of plagiarism, the Quotidien de l’Art’s Roxana Azimi reports. The point of contention is a prop used in Rihanna’s 2010 video ROCKSTAR 101, which resembles Clar’s installation You & Me, presented in Memphis in 2006.

In Clar’s piece, neon tubes spelling “you” are stuck to the ceiling and support more tubes, which read “me.” The object used in the music video functions according to the same system, but spells the words “rock” and “star” instead.

James Clar, You & Me, 2006 Courtesy the artist

James Clar, You & Me (2006)
Courtesy the artist

According to the QdA, the complaint was submitted to Paris’ Grand Instance Court using a direct committal procedure. Clar’s lawyer Me Michel Dutilleul-Francoeur says the sculpture You & Me is a unique artwork, which has been reproduced and showcased without authorization from its author. In his view (and his client’s), Rihanna’s prop is thus a counterfeit.

This isn’t the first time the singer find herself embroiled in a plagiarism case. In 2011, photographer David LaChapelle filed a lawsuit against her, alleging that her video S&M was directly inspired by some of his Italian Vogue shots. The case was settled privately.

The prop used in Rihanna's video ROCKSTAR 101 Via: Pop and On

The prop used in Rihanna’s video ROCKSTAR 101
Photo: via Pop and On

Filing the case in France was a canny move from Clar. According to the lawyer: “French laws on plagiarism are more favorable in France than in the US.” An official reason also backs the claim: Rihanna’s video was published on the French site www.universalmusic.fr, which is run by a French company.

Clar is now seeking €4.9 million ($6.64 million) in damages, the equivalent of €0.10 for each viewing of the video. It has been removed from the site.


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