Professional photographer, Lauren Withrow, has filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against Forever 21. Austin, Texas-based Withrow, who is in her early 20's, is far from an unknown force; her Flickr photographs alone have been viewed "more than 5 million times", according to the complaint, and her work has appeared in Nylon, We The Urban, Odalisque, and FD Luxe mags, among others, and in exhibitions in New York and London. The lawsuit, which was filed in federal court in the Eastern District of Texas this week, includes claims of copyright infringement, federal unfair competition, and common law unfair competition by misappropriation, all stemming from Forever 21's "On The Edge No Filter Top".
Withrow alleges that since October 2013, "Forever 21 has been selling a shirt in its retail stores and online bearing a print that infringes one or more of Withrow’s copyright." She is further claiming that the infringing t-shirt, which was being sold for $13.80 was "promoted, marketed, distributed and/or sold by Forever 21 [and] incorporates original, identifiable and protectable elements of [her] photo."
Withrow, who describes her work as "Dark, emotional, usually pretty honest and raw, but in subtle ways", created the photo at issue "through extensive time, labor, skill and money," she alleges in her complaint, and as a result of Forever 21's misappropriation, she is seeking several forms of relief. Primarily, Withrow is asking the court to permanently enjoin would like to court to order from using the photo at issue or any print substantially similar thereto. She would like to court to award her "all of Forever 21’s profits and all damages, including lost profits, sustained by her as a result of Forever 21’s wrongful acts", as well as "actual and consequential damages and punitive damages for [Forever 21's] willful infringement and unfair competition." And last but not least, she wants Forever 21 to "recall, remove and return to [her] for destruction all goods, advertisements, web materials, or other products bearing infringements of the photo or any prints substantially similar thereto."
Chances are, this is the last we will hear of this lawsuit, as Forever 21 quite notoriously allocates funds in its budget to settling out of court with parties pursuing legal action.