Street Artist Jamie Hef Sues Pop Singer Kiesza over Unauthorized Use of His Work

The popular video has garnered over 260 million views.

The graffiti can be seen in the background of the music video to Kiesza's Hideway Photo: Video still via YouTube

The street artist Jamie Mitchel Kosse has filed a federal complaint against the Canadian pop singer Kiesza and her label Universal Music Group over the unauthorized depiction of his works in a music video for her single Hideway.

In the suit, the artist, who goes by the name Jamie Hef, claims that the singer, whose real name is Kiesa Rae Ellestad, intentionally appropriated his work in the 2014, MTV-Award Nominated video to inhance her street credibility.

The popular video has garnered over 260 million views on YouTube and was decorated with the 2014 Juno Award for Video of the Year.

In the video, shot in Williamsburg, the singer dances around a city block with Kosse’s artwork visible in the background.

According to Courthouse News, Kosse’s complaint alleged the unauthorized appropriation of his street art “appears to have been intentional because they are emblematic of the urban gritty cool image that Kiesza projects in the Hideaway video and in her subsequent music videos.”

Consequently, “The result creates the false impression that the plaintiff endorses Kiesza, which he does not, and that he authorized the usage of his highly distinctive works to promote the launch of Kiesza’s career.”

The suit alleges that the accused did not attempt to license Kosse’s work, and emphasizes that other networks including NBC, CBS, Paramount Pictures, and Universal Studios have all sought the street artist’s permission to depict his work in programs such as The Dictator and A Gifted Man.

The seven-page lawsuit goes on to state that Kosse’s block-long mural Frogs, Elephant, Alphabet Demons, Adam and Graffiti Hefs, which appears in much of the video, was painted legally with permission from the property’s owner.

The artist’s attorneys indicated that they have contacted the musician and her label twice to request they cease using their client’s artwork without permission, but did not receive any response.

Lawsuits involving street art have been on the rise in recent years, as brands seek to capitalize on the art form’s urban image, and artists look for ways to generate income for their public artworks. American Eagle, Starbucks and Moschino have all been embroiled in legal disputes.

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