Artist Lina Iris Viktor said a Kendrick Lamar music video for the Black Panther soundtrack appropriated her work without permission.
Viktor, a British-Liberian artist, accused the team behind the just-released Marvel film Black Panther, which includes a song by Lamar, of a copyright violation over the use of her signature 24-karat gold geometric mark-making aesthetic. In November of 2016, an assistant to Marvel’s set decorator approached Viktor asking to feature one of her works in the film itself. Viktor declined his offer because she “found the financial and artistic terms unacceptable,” according to the New York Times. In December of 2017, she was contacted again, this time by Marvel and Disney through the public relations firm, DDA. Viktor once again declined their offer after considering how the demand that she “enter into an exclusive license for the proposed artworks, thereby foregoing all artistic control,” would affect her inclusion in the upcoming Armory Show, according to a letter issued by Viktor’s attorney. But after the release of Lamar’s music video for “All the Stars”––a song created for the film––on February 6th, which features ornate gold patterning similar to her work, Viktor decided to push back. The music video’s glimmering line-work differs, just slightly, from Viktor’s own. Because the reproduction is not identical, and style is not copyrightable, Viktor’s claim might not pass legal muster, one expert told the Times. This is not the first time a music video has utilized an artist’s style without permission. In 2016, Drake’s “Hotline Bling” music video received criticism for its use of an ethereal light installation that closely resembled the work of artist James Turrell. But while Turrell didn’t object to the appropriation, Viktor sees the usage as an insult and has requested, at minimum, a public apology and licensing fee. Neither Disney, Lamar, his label head Anthony Tiffith, nor the music video director, Dave Meyers, have responded to Viktor or the Times.