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An Artist Is Suing Kendrick Lamar and SZA Over Their "All the Stars" Video

British-Liberian artist Lina Iris Viktor has formalized her accusations of plagiarism, issuing a lawsuit for copyright infringement.

by Lauren O'Neill
Feb 21 2018, 3:26pm

Screenshots via YouTube

Following a letter sent to the head of Kendrick Lamar's label Top Dawg Entertainment citing "willful" and "egregious" infringement of her rights, the British-Liberian artist Lina Iris Viktor, who says that Kendrick and SZA's video for "All the Stars" (from the Black Panther soundtrack) uses her artwork, has filed a lawsuit.

According to TMZ, Viktor's suit for copyright infringement notes that the music video copies parts of her work which she and her lawyers name as "specific copyrightable elements." These include "stylized motifs of mythical animals, gilded geometric forms on a black background, and distinctively textured areas and patterns."

Her claim is somewhat backed up by the fact that Black Panther bosses had requested use of her artwork for the film on two occasions, once in 2016, and once in 2017. Upon examination of their offers, Viktor declined, and her artwork was not used in the film. However, something she alleges strongly resembles her work has cropped up in the "All the Stars" video, and while the art in the video is not a direct copy of Viktor's work (specifically her 'Constellations' series), you could say it shares definite similarities in terms of color and pattern.

Screenshot via

With her claim, TMZ reports that Viktor is pursuing an injunction against Kendrick Lamar, TDE, and SZA using her artwork in order to promote the Black Panther soundtrack. When contacted by the New York Times last week, she noted an additional, ethical issue with what she states has happened:

It’s an ethical issue, because what the whole film purports is that it’s about black empowerment, African excellence—that’s the whole concept of the story. And at the same time they’re stealing from African artists.


Whether Viktor's suit will be successful (or whether it will be settled out of court) is yet to be seen, though helpfully, we recently asked a Lawyer about this actually pretty complex issue. Before the suit was issued, Eamon Chawke, an Intellectual Property lawyer told us:

The main thing will be whether the Black Panther people acknowledge the copy or not—if they don't think it's a slavish copy and they argue that they've taken an idea not a work, and that ideas are not protected by copyright, then in all likelihood they will send a reply that says as much and just stonewall.


Now that the suit has been issued that may not be an option, though due to the ethical ramifications Viktor cites, this could be about to get very complicated.

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This article originally appeared on Noisey UK.