Rap artist Lil’ Kim (Kimberly Denise Jones) is being accused of using an emerging make-up artist’s photograph to promote her single “Dead Gal Walking” without permission, payment or credit, thereby allegedly infringing the artist’s copyright as well as misappropriation of her personal image in the photograph which is covered by “use of likeness” protections under the law.
Make-up artist Samantha Ravndahl’s creations have been featured on BoingBoing, Laughing Squid, and The Huffington Post. On November 8, 2013, Ravndahl, owner of Batalash Beauty (based in Vancouver, Canada with affiliate artists in Los Angeles, California), posted a step-by-step tutorial on how to create a “Pop Art Zombie” look for Hallowe’en; concluding the article with this image, in which she says she is both the model and photographer:
When she learned that the image was being used by Lil’ Kim, Ravndahl told DOOM! Magazine “I reported the image to Facebook on Nov. 1, and one of the posts using my image on Facebook was removed. I contacted Instagram on Nov. 2, and one image was removed shortly thereafter. I received an email from a member of Kim’s team on Nov. 2, whom I have had fairly steady contact with since (emailing back and forth every couple days [sic]). Kim’s manager called me on Nov. 5, in the phone call he agreed to remove all illegal usages of my photo within the day (quote: ‘Give me a couple hours [sic], it’s my job for the day’).” Ravndahl took her cause to reddit, venting her frustration, and seeking advice. Fellow redditors took it from there, spamming Lil’ Kim’s social media pages with accusations and vitriol. It was later discovered that Lil’ Kim’s copyright watermark had been placed on the image posted on her WhoSay page.
Ravndahl says that the pictures have yet to be removed. As of this posting, DOOM! has confirmed numerous appearances of the photo on Jones’ pages as well as others.
DOOM! found that on or around Hallowe’en (October 31, 2013), ‘Dead Gal Walking’ was posted on Lil’ Kim’s twitmusic page along with this photograph:
The image (or altered iterations of it) has been posted multiple times on Jones’ Facebook, Instagram, WhoSay pages, along with appearing on web sites including abcnewsradio online, Raw Hollywood, The Women of Hip Hop, Female Rappers.net, Swurv Radio.com, and others. As of this report the image remains on the majority of Jones’ sites.
DOOM! attempted to contact Lil’ Kim’s representatives for comment, but has not, at this time, received a reply.
Ravndahl says she is in contact with an attorney regarding pursuing legal action against Jones. This would not be the first time the rapper would be facing legal difficulties; in March of 2005 Lil’ Kim was found guilty of one count of conspiracy to commit perjury, and three counts of perjuring herself before a grand jury in regards to her involvement in a shooting at New York City hip-hop club Hot 97. Jones served 287 days of her 366 day sentence in a Federal Detention Center near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, followed by 30 days of house arrest and 3 years probation. She was also fined $50,000.
Just two months after she was convicted in the perjury case, singers/songwriters Anthony Jeffries and Vincent Hart sued Lil’ Kim for breach of contract, violation of their rights of publicity, and unjust enrichment for work they did on the “La Bella M.A.F.I.A.” album and tour. A Stipulation of Discontinuance was later filed, indicating that the case was settled.
In September 2007, producer/engineer Carlos Evans brought suit against Jones and Rotten Apple Records for breach of contract to collect unpaid royalties on the song “Magic Stick”. This case also appears to have been settled out of court. In late 2008, Brookland Media sued Lil’ Kim for breach of contract. The case was dismissed with prejudice against both parties (meaning neither can raise any issue raised in the original case ever again). In 2008, publishing house Simon & Schuster sued Jones for the repayment of a $40,000 advance on the memoir she contracted to write for them but never delivered.
Currently, Lil’ Kim is embroiled in a suit/countersuit with her former lawyers and business manager over licensing agreements.
On Wednesday, November 13, Lil’ Kim tweeted:
But on Friday, November 15, XXL reported that Lil’ Kim told them ““I don’t know what the heck is going on … If there were something going on, my team would know better than I would. You have to get that from my team because I really don’t know what’s going on.'”
DOOM! has again reached out to Lil’ Kim’s team and will update if any response is forthcoming. At this time, it appears that the image has been removed from Lil’ Kim’s pages.
DOOM! will keep you posted on any further developments.