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Cash Sues Urban Outfitters

Claims T-shirt constitutes misappropriation of right of publicity

April 26, 2001 12:00 AM ET

Johnny Cash and renowned rock photographer Jim Marshall filed a joint lawsuit against Urban Outfitters, Inc. in a San Francisco court on Tuesday, citing "wrongful, oppressive and malicious conduct." Marshall is charging the clothing retailer with copyright infringement of his famous 1969 photograph of Cash sneering and holding up his middle finger (snapped at a sound check at San Quentin prison) on a T-shirt without having secured permission. Cash is charging misappropriation of right of publicity for the use of his image.

The T-shirt -- which reads "American by birth, Southern by the Grace of God" -- has been sold at Urban Outfitters throughout the country. The suit contends that "Cash has been damaged and defendants [Urban Outfitters] have been unjustly enriched" by the shirt's creation and sale, and that "Marshall, nor anyone authorized by him, has at any time licensed defendants to reproduce, advertise, distribute, sell, exhibit, or otherwise deal in the copyrighted work [the photo]."

Cash and Marshall seek statutory damages, defendant's profits, attorney's fees and punitive damages.

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