Ariana Grande has quickly become one of today’s most popular singers. Her pop music, fabulous outfits, and fun-filled music videos have helped her become the chart-topping artist she is. But Grande is now being sued for using another artist’s work one of her music videos.
Vladimir Kush, a Russian-American artist, has filed a copyright lawsuit in Nevada Court against the pop star, claiming she plagiarized two of his paintings in her “God Is a Woman” music video.
Throughout Grande’s video, she is seen dancing in front of a flame of a candle. And in two paintings from 1999 and 2000, The Candle and The Candle 2, which are both copyrighted by Kush, there is a woman standing in place of the wick as the candle burns in front of a blue sky. On his website, Kush describes the paintings as “A woman holds the torch of the spiritual light dispersing the dark night of ignorance. Inspired by spiritual passion she turns herself to the invisible forces of the cosmos controlling the elements on Earth.”
Grande’s video reached millions of viewers. This is especially true with YouTube videos reaching more 18 to 34 and 18 to 49 year-olds than any U.S. cable network. Because of its widespread views, the visuals were examined closely by several parties. This ultimately lead Kush to his discovery.
According to the lawsuit, “This depiction of Ms. Grande is strikingly similar to Plaintiffs’ copyrighted Works… While there are many ways to depict a woman dancing in the wick of a candle—even with a heavenly background—defendants clearly copied Mr. Kush’s expression of this idea.” The lawsuit was filed by Mark Tratos, a Las Vegas entertainment attorney. The lawsuit also claims that Kush was never talked to about his work being used in any part of Grande’s video.
The defendants in Kush’s lawsuit span beyond Ariana herself — he’s also suing Dave Meyers, the video director, and Freenjoy Inc. Unfortunately, this isn’t the first lawsuit Meyers and Freenjoy Inc. are dealing with — both were allegedly sued last year by Lina Iris Viktor for copying her paintings and using them without her permission in a different music video.
There are laws in place to protect certain materials owned by both individuals and companies, like the 2016 Defend Trade Secrets Act. And Kush has previous lawsuits for the use of his work in other music videos.
Kush’s lawsuit aims to have the music video removed and he is seeking damages as well. Neither Grande nor her lawyer has yet made a comment regarding the claim.