Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Rihanna Wins Image Battle Against Top Shop Over T-Shirt

There seems to be new lifestyle or Instagram brands popping up everyday whose base images are the faces of celebrities. I've always wondered how celebs feel when they see their faces or names splattered across a tshirt or hat - but they see no profit from it. I remember one day seeing a tweet from Erykah Badu after someone sent a dope tshirt to her with her image on it. Her response was simple- "Cute..where's my money?'

Well, the ironic thing is that these smaller shops and brands are not the only ones using the likenesses of popular faces for major profits. Our girl Rih Rih has been in a legal battle with the well loved store- Top Shop over a shirt with her face on it since 2013. Today it was announced that she won her case in London full out against the brand. She technically won it a bit ago, but the parent company appealed. The law in the UK states that celebs don't own their own image rights, so what made Rih's case different?

This is considered the first celebrity case of it's kind.. Three appellate judges all felt that it wasn't legal to market Rih's face without her permission. Their ruling isn't necessarily going to make it easier for other celebs to take the same action. They said her case was especially strong because of her relationship with the brand. The judges alluded that buyers might actually buy the shirt thinking the image was approved by the star.

The tshirt used a photo taken from Rihanna's Talk that Talk album era as seen above. We know that along with releasing albums Rih is now considered a fashion icon. One key element in the case for the judges was that Rihanna has such a presence already in fashion. They stated that anything like this could damage her reputation...basically because she's so heavily into fashion she needs the creative control over what goes out in her name or image.

Congratulations to Rihanna and way to stand up against the machine. It's tough being as big as Rih and other stars are and being able to maintain control over certain things. It appears to me that in recent years Rihanna has tried her best to maintain control over her brand which now extends across multiple entertainment sectors. When you're "Rihanna huge" everybody wants a piece and everybody feels some sense of ownership- I think Rih signed up for that, but she's also thinking about her coins.

Her original case against Top Shop was for $5M.

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