Forever 21 is on the hook for copyright infringement, thanks to a new lawsuit. According to photographer Vanessa Boy’s complaint, which was filed earlier this month in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, a federal court in Los Angeles, Boy posted an original photo of blogger wearing an array of Forever 21 garments to Instagram on or about September 12, 2016. Shortly thereafter, the fast fashion giant (and notorious copycat) “contacted [Boy] seeking a license to repost that photograph on its social media,” and Boy “agreed on the condition that it be simply a strict repost, that she be tagged and credited as the photographer.”
Boy, a professional photographer based in Orland, Florida, alleges that Forever 21 went on to use the photo in violation of their agreement, “modifying the photograph, failing to either tag or give credit to Plaintiff, and then using the modified photograph on Instagram and its website as a click-through advertisement.”
Upon learning of the infringing posts, Boy claims that she “informed [Forever 21] that they had violated her terms of usage and that ‘[i]n its current state, it must come down immediately as it has breached copyright.’” She also asserts in her complaint that she “called Forever 21 twice on September 26, 2016, leaving messages both times. Plaintiff additionally called Forever 21 on September 30, 2016 and left another message. Forever 21 neither responded to [her] repeated inquiries nor removed the post from its website and social media.”
According to a statement from Boy, “I think it is genuinely imperative for artists that are young in this industry to remember that their creative rights are just as important as the contracted artists that they admire and aspire to become."
Boy’s counsel, Stephen M. Doniger of Los Angeles-based firm, Doniger Burroughs, APC, told TFL: “It is unfortunate that some companies commercially exploit photographs and artwork displayed through social media without ever seeking permission from the artists—it is hard enough for most artists to make a living when their work is properly licensed. While, cases like this provide artists with an opportunity to assert their rights and get paid for their work, there is no real compensation for the loss of control of their work.”
Forever 21 did not respond to a request for comment.
* The case is Boy v. Forever 21 Inc., et al, 2:17-cv-01879 (Cal CD).