Guns N’ Roses Sued Over Copyright Infringement
Being a photographer for a popular rock band would be a dream come true for many people. But for one concert photographer, it turned out to be a nightmare.
The photographer for Guns N’ Roses is suing the band for copyright infringement and sexual harassment. She claims that the band and its management, Team Brazil, took ownership over a substantial number of her photographs. The band then used the photos without authorization across various media platforms. The lawsuit also alleges sexual harassment, as the photographer was made vulnerable to unwelcome advances from Guns N’ Roses’s manager.
The photographer provided tour photography for Guns N’ Roses starting in 2010. She worked 364 concerts for the band until her termination in 2022. She alleges that during that time, the band reproduced, publicly displayed, and sold her photographs without permission. Guns N’ Roses also deliberately altered the photos to hide the violations. This is despite the fact that she retained copyrights to the images.
The photographer is also accusing Guns N’ Roses’ manager of repeated sexual harassment. The lawsuit details unwelcome sexual propositions, verbal abuse, and bullying from the manager. He also retaliated against her when she rejected his advances. He engaged in actions such as lowering her pay without notice, forcing her to cover travel costs, and denying her expenses. The photographer was terminated in 2022, while male photographers were retained.
Guns N’ Roses denies the allegations in the lawsuit, calling them “categorically and unequivocally false.” According to the band, the photographer signed agreements on multiple tours stating that all photos would be fully owned by Guns N’ Roses and taken on a “work-for-hire” basis. Guns N’ Roses sued the photographer challenging her copyright claims. The band’s legal team argues that the photographer has no ownership rights based on her signed contracts.
This complex legal fight shows that photographers need to be careful about copyright and infringement. They need to understand their legal rights as well as how to best protect their works. This is especially true for live music photographers, who are often short-term workers and may have different types of contracts and rights. In this case, Guns N’ Roses asserts broad work-for-hire rights over all images, while the photographer assumed she retained the rights to her photos. But as the saying goes, you should never assume.
However, Guns N’ Roses may have been going against industry norms. It is not uncommon for bands to wield expansive copyright control over contract photographers. They often try to have disproportionate power over creatives struggling for exposure.
In any case, there is always a need for clear written agreements defining copyright ownership for photos and other works. It will be up to the courts to decide on the outcome in this case.
Learn More About Copyright Infringement
Photography is a creative medium that can result in amazing artwork. Having your work distributed to others can be a dream come true, but not when there is infringement and harassment involved.
As a creator, protecting your work can be a challenge. Orlando trademark & copyright lawyer B.F. Godfrey from Godfrey Legal can help ensure you are rightfully compensated. Schedule a consultation today by calling (407) 890-0023 or filling out the online form.