Two days ago we got an email from a person complaining that we promote obesity by sharing an image of Ashley Graham and accused her of copying from other models. Plus, the person went on to say that it’s a no-go to copy other people’s ideas. ‘Are you kidding me?’ Was my first reaction when I saw the pictures in the email. I wanted to delete the email, but I said to myself, “I cannot allow anyone to talk this bad about plus size women,” and although we often get complaints about promoting an unhealthy lifestyle by sharing plus size models, I found the second part more interesting to discuss this time.
RIHANNA VS LACHAPELLE – copyright infringement lawsuit
I remembered when Rihanna was getting sued by Dave LaChapelle over her video for S&M a few years ago, because he accused her of copying from his photographs. Here is an article comparing LaChapelle’s photography with Rihanna’s video: Rihanna VS LaChapelle: Can You Spot The Difference?
Since a resemblance can’t be denied, he filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against her. This case never went to court, because they made an agreement so it didn’t escalate further. But since it is a good example to show you the legal side of this topic, here is the definition of it according to Wikipedia:
‘Copyright infringement is the use of works protected by copyright law without permission, infringing certain exclusive rights granted to the copyright holder, such as the right to reproduce, distribute, display or perform the protected work, or to make derivative works. The copyright holder is typically the work’s creator, or a publisher or other business to whom copyright has been assigned. Copyright holders routinely invoke legal and technological measures to prevent and penalize copyright infringement.’
As someone working for a lawyer’s office who also handles copyright cases, this made me think a lot. I don’t know what kind of problem this person has with Ashley Graham, but I myself can say that I don’t agree with it at all. Furthermore, I will explain why it’s not wrong to do so.
ASHLEY GRAHAM VS OTHER MODELS – Can you spot the difference?
The person sent us some pictures as an example. My reaction mentioned above was when I realized that some of the pictures look similar. We got pictures of Ashley put together with other pictures from the models Candice Huffine and Joby Bach.
Judge for yourself, can you spot a difference?
Some of the images were put together by us, because the pictures send by email were too blurry. Furthermore, we checked all images and the ones on the left where all published first.
Some pictures show a certain resemblance, while others could be the result of a coincidence. The position of the arms in picture 2 and 4 look like coincidences for me, because I know many models who do the same arm poses. Picture 11 is also a coincidence, because Ashley was not the only SI swim model who wore a black bathing suit with her name on – See here a picture of Bo Krsmanovic. This means that SI swim made the design for this one and not Ashley herself.
On the other hand, the other pictures have a even bigger resemblance with each other regarding the pose and the outfit. A picture is a 100 % copy when there is a similarity regarding ‘the idea, the conception, the design, and the execution as well‘. So what do you think, did Ashley copy the shooting ideas from other models?
IS IT A NO-GO TO GET INSPIRED BY OTHER MODELS OR IS IT A FORM OF ADMIRATION?
This leads me to my final comment towards the person who send us the email below:
‘I don’t know who you are, since it looks like you wrote to us from a fake email account. I also don’t know why you had to accuse us of promoting obesity by sharing plus size models, but I know that you must be having a lot of problems with yourself if you think the women above are obese. Furthermore, I don’t think it’s bad to use the images of other models as inspiration. I myself did it, although in the end there was never a resemblance. The reason for it were the photographers. This leads me to the point that models usually follow the instructions of the photographers for a shooting, which could be the reason why some images look more alike than others. Plus, not every model can bring her own clothes for the shootings which means that some of the styles may also look similar in the end. Then we should not forget the stylists, the creative art directors and the brands themselves, they are all involved in a shooting. To repeat the point about the arms from the section above, all models copy the arm poses. There is not much else you can do other than replicate the same poses from time to time. Let’s face it, many ideas have to be copied, because there are so many amazing shootings happening every day. Coming up with a brand new shooting idea is difficult. For me, getting inspired by other models is not a no-go at all, it is my most honest form of admiration, and taking the works of other amazing models should make those models proud and confident — Especially if it is such a beautiful and successful model like Ashley Graham. I think you can’t be a model yourself, because a model would know that it’s ok to get inspired by other people’s work, plus, if Dave LaChapelle didn’t only had his business in mind, I’m sure he would have also been proud of Rihanna admiring his work.’ ~ Style & Curve Magazine
This is all we have to say about this topic. We see many shooting pictures daily, and we also see resemblances between them, but it is not only one model who uses other models for their inspiration. We can see that many of them do this. Should all models sue each other over shooting ideas? I think not, because the plus size movement will end immediately. This is not what should happen, instead we should all be proud of other amazing models that use each other for their inspiration. This is also what Joby Bach thinks as you can see in her recent Instagram post below:
We don’t know what Candice Huffine or Gigi Hadid think of being the inspiration for Ashley Graham, but we are sure they also like it.
ADRESSING THE REACTIONS
Right now this article was shared on facebook over 1,4k times and we think that we have to adress the reactions to it.
- We don’t want to criticize Ashley at all. We just thought that it might be a good idea to talk about this subject, after receiving the email mentioned above. We chosed to write about this, because we love the images of Ashley and what she achieved so far. We wouldn’t share her if we didn’t like her.
- Questions about Posing: It is not a crime to copy poses, unless we talk here about an image with a special pose that became a trademark or a pose that became iconic. Two famous cases regarding copyright infringement about special poses are the case Desmond Howard vs a photographer about the iconic ‘Heisman’ pose, which was solved through an agreement (READ HERE); and the case when Nike was sued by a photographer over the Michael Jordan Jumpman Logo, which was dismissed in court although it showed a lot of resemblance. See pictures HERE. Eventually, it is OK to copy poses and as you can see in the Nike case, the judge dismissed the case although there is a lot of similarity. Dave LaChapelle was, in fact, very lucky that he achieved an agreement with Rihanna before it went to court, because a judge would have dismissed his case anyway. So, you don’t have to worry about anything.
- Factor Photographer, Stylist, Art Director and Brand: They have a lot to say, because they make the shooting. The final poses and shooting ideas are mostly created by them. A model only has to follow their instructions in the end. So, if they choose to copy certain poses and shooting ideas, then only because they think it will be good in the end.
- Final comment to the reactions, it is not our fault if models like Ashley Graham have haters. We have them too. Therefore, we wanted to write this article to make clear that even if you take other people’s work as your inspiration, you will not have to fear getting sued. We wanted to make clear that we should regard this as a compliment and that we should continue to support each other.
We would like to end this article with a quote of Charles Caleb Colton: ‘Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.’
Style & Curve Magazine