Kendall and Kylie Jenner’s brand is fighting allegations that certain T-shirts featuring Tupac Shakur are violating a photographer’s legal copyrights.
Michael Miller on Friday filed a biting infringement lawsuit in California federal court accusing the sisters and their growing brand, Kendall + Kylie, of using his copyrighted photographs of the late rapper for unauthorized T-shirts that have the addition of bright yellow “K”s and an Instagram photo of Kylie. But the brand has a different story.
Characterizing Miller’s allegations as “completely false” and the lawsuit — in which he’s seeking $150,000 for each use of his photos — as “baseless,” a Kendall + Kylie spokeswoman told WWD that the brand’s use and sale of the shirts was on the up and up.
“Canada Inc., the licensee manufacturer of the K + K brand, purchased a very small quantity of vintage T-shirts with performer images already on them,” the spokeswoman said. “Canada Inc. did not copy anyone’s image, remove any copyright notice from any image, or attempt to exploit Mr. Miller’s claimed right of publicity. There has been no infringement or violation of anyone’s rights.”
The spokeswoman also noted that “only two” of the Tupac shirts at issue were sold before being pulled from distribution.
Tupac was only one artist the sisters used for a line of T-shirts sold briefly on their web site for $125 that included overlays of their insignia. Other T-shirts that got the Kendall + Kylie treatment feature Metallica, Notorious B.I.G. and The Doors.
Shortly after the shirts went up online, however, a social media backlash began, with commenters taking issue with the shirts being marketed as “vintage” as well as the sisters’ using T-shirts of musical acts for their own financial gain.
It didn’t take long for the shirts to be pulled from sale, and the sisters to take to Instagram for a joint apology.
After admitting the T-shirts “were not well thought-out” and stressing they did not mean to offend any of the artists or their families, the sisters said they were going to “learn from these mistakes.”
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