Copyright Woes: Nicki Minaj vs Indie Artist

Female rapper, Nicki Minaj and Universal Music Group are facing a bit of legal trouble as California-based artist, Isiah Eugene Simon claimed that they copied his “unique design of an inverted heart comprised of a woman’s chest and bikini."

Simon's complaint was filed in the United States District Court of California and he alleged that the defendants brazenly stole his Heart Design and "affixed it to shirts that promote MINAJ." Simon further claims that he obtained federal copyright registration for his unique design in early 2015.

To compensate for the alleged copying, Simon is seeking a preliminary and permanent injunction to prevent future infringement of his Heart Design; an Order impounding all remaining Infringing Shirts within Defendants’ possession, custody or control; an award of either: (a) Plaintiff’s actual damages plus Defendants’ profits from sales of the Infringing Shirts; or (b) statutory damages (which could be up to $150,000 per infringement); and an award of attorneys’ fees and costs incurred in connection with the lawsuit.

The mere fact that Simon is able to file a lawsuit shows the importance of formally registering your artistic work with the United States Copyright Office. There are numerous benefits to be derived, and they include legal evidence of ownership (aka the receipts) and the ability to sue in federal court for statutory damages.

Do you think that the designs look substantially similar?

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