Robyn Rihanna Fenty et al. v. Arcardia Group Brands Limited (t/a Topshop) et al.; No. HC12F01378,  EWHC 2310 (Ch. July 31, 2013).
This case was before the English High Court of Chancery in London. In March 2012, the retailer Topshop started selling a t-shirt with an image of the pop star Rihanna on it. Topshop had a license from the photographer, but not from Rihanna who contended that sale of the t-shirts without her permission infringed her rights.
The court found it "important to state at the outset that this case is not concerned with so called 'image rights'. Whatever may be the position elsewhere in the world, and how ever much various celebrities may wish there were, there is today in England no such thing as a free standing general right by a famous person (or anyone else) to control the reproduction of their image." Instead, "this case is concerned with passing off." The burden was on Rihanna to establish that she has a goodwill and reputation amongst relevant members of the public, the conduct complained of was likely to deceive those members of the public into buying the product because they think it is authorized by her, and that misrepresentation damaged her goodwill. For passing off to succeed, there must be a misrepresentation about trade origin.
The Court concluded that Rihanna "was and is regarded as a style icon by many people..." and that she had ample goodwill to succeed in a passing off action. The scope of her goodwill was not only as a music artist but also in the world of fashion.
"The real issue in this case" was misrepresentation. The Court concluded that a misrepresentation was made, and held that "it is a matter for the claimants and not Topshop to choose what garments the public think are endorsed by her." Finding in favor of Rihanna.
August 2, 2013
July 29, 2013
House democrat Rep. Mel Watt (North Carolina) announced a plan to reintroduce legislation requiring radio stations to pay performance royalties for sound recordings (not just for compositions). The last time the issue was proposed, in February 2009 (H.R. 848, the Performance Rights Act), the bill failed to pass the House. The National Association of Broadcasters issued a statement strongly opposing a "new performance tax."