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Copyright Infringement Lawsuit

Photographer, Friend Suing Prince’s Estate for Copyright Infringement reported that Madison Dube is suing the estate of the late singer Prince and “associated companies” for copyright infringement. According to the article’s author Jack Alexander, Dube was a friend and protégé of Prince, who worked for the musician between 2013 and his death in 2016. Dube worked “to provide freelance work, including photography, graphic design, film/videography, voice, and other creative work.”

In her lawsuit, Dube claims the estate of the late singer is using some of that work for commercial value without permission.

US Copyright Law Gives Photographers Exclusive Rights

Under US copyright law, the person who takes a photograph is the exclusive owner of the rights to that photograph. This ownership right exists automatically the moment a photographer snaps a picture. Copyright protection extends to other forms of creative work as well.

Copyright gives a photographer the exclusive right to decide who, if anyone, may reproduce or “use” their work, and under what terms. License agreements provide specific terms of use and compensation. An artist can give away the rights for free or ask for payment. Again, copyright puts the control in the hand of the creator of the work.

Dube’s lawsuit alleges that Prince’s estate is using her materials without the proper licenses and without consulting her. She claims the estate is using the images in ways that are entirely beyond the intention of their collaborations, such as advertising and merchandising. The estate seems to be doing this with full knowledge that the work belongs to Dube, even giving her credit.

Dube Claims She Never Assigned Any Rights to Her Photographs of Prince

Setting this lawsuit apart from some other copyright infringement cases is that Dube’s claim states explicitly that she never signed away any of her rights to the work she did for Prince. The reason? Prince was a firm believer that artists should retain the right to their artistry.

What does Dube want? She wants the estate of Prince to stop using her images. She also wants damages for past use. The complaint states: “Ms. Dube now brings this action to assert her rights guaranteed under the Copyright Act, and to preserve the integrity of her work, currently being commercialized by defendants and used for mass-marketing, mass-produced sales and advertising, without her consent and contrary to the intent behind the creation of those works.”

The copyright case, 0:19-cv-02968-JRT-HB, was filed on November 22, 2019, in the US District Court of Minnesota and remains active.

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Sanders Law Group is dedicated to fighting for the rights of photographers around the globe. Call us today 888-348-3090 for a free consultation of your copyright claim.


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