Black Panther team accused of breach of copyright by British-Liberian artist

Rozina Sabur
Left, an image from the video for “All the Stars” by Kendrick Lamar and SZA; right, the painting “Constellation I” by Lina Iris Viktor

The team behind Black Panther, a new Marvel film featuring the first black superhero, has been accused of breach of copyright by British-Liberian artist Lina Iris Viktor. 

The artist has claimed that her work was used without her permission in a music video for the film's soundtrack, 'All the Stars', by Kendrick Lamar.

Her lawyer, Christopher Robinson, has claimed the video has used images of Viktor's 24-karat gold patterned artworks in her series of paintings 'Constellations' without her permission. 

In a letter to Top Dawg Entertainment, the label behind the video, Mr Robinson claimed Viktor had been contacted twice by the film’s creators for permission to feature her work, but she declined. 

The artist's lawyer has claimed the music video contains a 19-second clip “that incorporates not just the immediately-identifiable and unique look of her work, but also many of the specific copyrightable elements in the ‘Constellations’ series".

Artist Lina Iris Viktor Credit: Instagram: linairisviktor

He added that the artist was willing “to discuss a resolution of all her claims, consisting at a minimum of a public apology for the unauthorised use and a license fee.”

Viktor said she became aware of the copyright after her friends spotted her artwork in the video. It is not clear whether the artwork also appears in the movie, which has been produced by Marvel Studios and distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.

The film, which is released in cinemas on Friday, has been hotly anticipated as it features the first black American superhero, based on the Marvel Comics character Black Panther.

Artist Lina Iris Viktor Credit: Instagram: linairisviktor

Viktor, who was born and raised in London, told the New York Times: "It's an ethical issue, because what the whole film purports is that it's about black empowerment, African excellence - that's the whole concept of the story." 

Lamar and Disney studios have not yet responded to requests for comment but the American rapper tweeted on Sunday: "Black Panther.

"Respect to all the artist/producers that allowed me to execute a sound for the soundtrack.

"The concept of producing and composing a project other than my own has always been ideal.

"I appreciate the experience love ones."