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Rihanna Facing Second Lawsuit For ‘S&M’ Video

Rihanna
Ethan Miller, Getty Images

Another day, another Rihanna video causing a stir. While her ‘Man Down’ video has been criticized for its depiction of vigilante justice, her super sexalicious, bondage-themed ‘S&M’ video is now facing its second copyright infringement lawsuit!

A Parisian fashion photographer has stepped forward with a bold claim that RiRi, 23, illegally borrowed his images for the video, and alleges that the sets and staging for the clip are identical to shots that he took. Hey, at least he has some photographic evidence on which to build his argument.

The video’s art direction has come under fire before with a very similar lawsuit. David LaChappelle, a famous artist and filmmaker, sued the singer earlier this year, seeking royalties after he accused Rihanna of directly stealing his ideas. LaChapelle pointed specifically to the hot-pink latex outfit that wraps her body in the video, and said ‘S&M’ borrows a bit too mightily from his works. He claimed, “the composition, total concept, feel, tone, mood [and] theme” is directly derived.” Essentially, LaChappelle is telling RiRi to come up with her own damn ideas.

Tsk tsk. Maybe Rihanna’s creative director for the video had sticky fingers? Or is it a coincidence? The fact that two photographers are making similar claims about the video also begs the question: Were they at all borrowing from one another in some way shape or form? Or are the visuals so limited in scope and style that it causes artists to “borrow” ideas rather than cannibalize them? That’s an argument with no clear, defined answer, but it would stand to reason that this scene pushes boundaries with its visuals and the well of ideas certainly shouldn’t run dry.

Regarding the newest suit, Radar Online reports that snapper Philipp Paulus, who is all of 19, is accusing the Barbados-born singer of stealing images from a spread he shot in Paperworld in August 2010. Paulus claims Rihanna did not seek permission to use the shots, which are protected by copyright. He alleges that the shot of the singer cloaked in a frothy white dress, trapped against a wall by a sheet of plastic and surrounded by large, black-tape Xs, is direct copy of one of his own images. Paulus’ shot is viewable on his website; though his model is wearing a fluffy red gown. There is an obvious similarity between these images.

“For legitimate reasons the use of copying Paulus’ work over a million times requires an agreement that protects the copyright and the achievements and creations of our client which has never been given by our client, neither to the artist Rihanna nor to her label Universal Music,” Paulus’ attorney states. “According to this, the copyright laws of our client has been infringed and the worldwide million-wise exploitation of the video ‘S&M’ is unlawful. . .[and] Paulus will take legal action against Rihanna.”

Paulus is understandably incensed that a pop star of Rihanna’s stature, with the budget and the resources to pay a staff of people to come up with new ideas and concepts, would steal from someone else. “Why a worldwide celebrity is not able to afford a creative director, who creates individual concepts and stagings, is incomprehensible to me,” Paulus told Radar. “To create new things within the creative cosmos, you can only expect this to come from a real genius, there is no doubt about.”

But it’s also a matter of artistic ethics and the protection of creative ideas, expression and work. “In this case, there is no real genius who created their own work; instead they stole ideas from a creative talent. Furthermore, every other creative professional should realize how supremely embarrassing it is to copy the work of colleagues from the artistic world and then to be praised for it.”

Paulus is hoping to settle with Rihanna, but will proceed with a lawsuit if that attempt is unsuccessful. Ri Ri and her people have yet to comment on the second ‘S&M’ suit.

Watch Rihanna’s ‘S&M’ Video

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