Update: The Katsuni Lawsuit Against Rapper Bow Wow; *Judge for Yourself

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from www.techdirt.com – A French porn star, Celine Tran, more widely known as “Katsuni,” is suing the rapper Bow Wow (real name: Shad Gregory Moss) and his label, Universal Music, for using clips from a video she did for a different music act in his own video.

In the interest of understanding the details of the lawsuit, I watched both videos, which are embedded here.

* www.techdirt.com/articles/20120811/02384519994/universal-music-sued-because-62-bow-wow-video-is-actually-french-porn-stars-music-video.shtml

While there’s no actual nudity, there’s a fair bit of pole dancing in very little clothing, which — depending on your workplace — may be considered not safe for work.

Consider yourself warned (or more interested, as the case may be). First up, the video Katsuni did with the French band, Electronic Conspiracy, for a song called “Conspiracy Strip Club.”

Next up, Bow Wow’s video, for a song called “Drank in my Cup.”

From the original description, I had thought that the producer of the Bow Wow video had just found someone to perform the same dance moves, and perhaps it was a Beyonce-like situation over copying choreography. But, watching the two videos, it’s pretty clear that whoever made Bow Wow’s video just used the original footage in his video. As the legal filing makes clear, 62% of Bow Wow’s video is actually footage from the other video. That’s pretty damning.

But… this isn’t a copyright claim.

And that’s where this gets a bit more interesting from the legal perspective. Whoever holds the copyright on the original video may have a very legitimate copyright claim here.

But that’s not who’s suing. It’s Katsuni, who is the woman who performs in the video. But she doesn’t hold the copyright — so, instead, she’s using a publicity rights claim. We’ve talked a lot about how popular publicity rights claims have become lately, and the concept is a bit of a mess, in part because it’s based on state laws, and they’re all different.

This one relies on California’s publicity rights law, and claims that Bow Wow is using her “likeness and image to promote BOW WOW’s career and music.”

It’s interesting to see how she’s basically using publicity rights as a poor man’s copyright here (though, perhaps the copyright holder will sue as well).

It gives us a hint of what may happen much more frequently thanks to the performer’s rights treaty signed in Beijing a few months ago, giving performers like Katsuni extra special copyright-like rights in all of their performances. We haven’t changed the law in the US yet to implement that, but in the short term, it looks like publicity rights claims may get the job done.

Either way, once again, we’re seeing how a major label — the same ones screaming about others copying their stuff — seems to think that different rules apply when they copy the works of someone else. Universal Music is the largest record label on the planet and one of the most aggressive in enforcing its copyrights. But, apparently it has no problem copying someone else’s video…

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