You would think that a major multi-million dollar corporation would know the rules by now. You can’t be selling t-shirts with an image of someone else emblazoned on the front without her permission: a lesson Topshop has to, apparently, learn the hard way.
According the New York Post, Rihanna has just filed a $5 million lawsuit against the English department store for selling t-shirts with her image on them without asking for her consent. The lawsuit was reportedly filed after Rihanna’s management repeatedly asked Topshop to stop selling the t-shirts, sans legal action.
The t-shirt in question, currently being sold in Topshop stores, is a cut off tank top with Rihanna’s picture. The item is called the "Icon Tank" and is described as being a “photographic tank with the photographic motif of a girl wearing a headscarf.” By a girl, they casually mean Rihanna.
Topshop has yet to respond with a formal comment, but a source from the retailer tells the Post, “this issue is related to a T-shirt provided to Topshop by a third-party supplier. We are aware it is the subject of litigation.”
Rihanna clearly has a strong case. If she repeatedly asked the retailer to remove the t-shirt from circulation prior to taking legal action and they declined, a lawsuit is completely warranted. Regardless of how strong her case is, however, since the suit is filed in the UK Rihanna will probably have a difficult time winning.
Topshop purchased the image from the photographer who took it, so technically, the retailer is exempt by law from paying the artist's licensing fees (a law specific to the United Kingdom). Topshop is not selling the tank top in the US where laws would protect Rihanna. Very clever Topshop.
Photo Credit: Getty Images