The photographer who shot the Tupac Shakur portraits that Kendall and Kylie Jenner used for their controversial “vintage” T-shirt line has sued the reality TV stars for copyright infringement.
In photographer Michael Miller’s complaint, he said the Jenners “misappropriated and wrongfully exploited at least two original photographs of late hip-hop artist Tupac Shakur, slapping the iconic photographs on garments and overlaying them with dubious imagery and text,” Billboard reports.
The shirts were briefly on sale before an onslaught of criticism over the clothing – which also jacked trademarked images from Led Zeppelin, the Notorious B.I.G., Pink Floyd, Ozzy Osbourne, the Doors and more – were pulled.
Miller’s lawsuit added that the photographer was never notified that the Jenners “intended to exploit his photography, let alone obtain his authorization.” The lawsuit also mentioned that Miller didn’t want to be associated with Kendall in particular following the model’s minor role in the Fyre Festival disaster as well as infamous Pepsi ad, which the lawsuit called “public relations disasters.”
“It was very upsetting to Mr. Miller,” the photographer’s lawyer Scott Alan Burroughs told USA Today. “His photography and particularly these photos are extremely personal and extremely important to him. To see them out there being used by someone who never advised you they were going to be used would be upsetting to any artist.”
Burroughs added that Miller registered his Tupac images at the U.S. Office of Copyright and that he could receive statutory damages of $150,000 per photo.
In a statement to TMZ, the Jenners’ representative Todd Wilson reiterated that the sisters had no role in the actual creation of the clothes. “It’s like suing an actor for being in a movie,” Wilson said of Miller’s lawsuit.
Miller is the latest to threaten legal action over the Jenners’ ill-conceived shirt design: Both the Notorious B.I.G.’s mother Voletta Wallace and the Doors issued cease-and-desist letters against the shirts, which were “ironic, at least, and criminal, at worst, both morally, ethically and artistically,” Jeff Jampol, manager of the Doors and the Jim Morrison estate, told Rolling Stone.
Following the uproar, the Jenners apologized in a joint statement, “These designs were not well thought out and we deeply apologize to anyone that has been upset and/or offended, especially to the families of the artists.”
The B.I.G. estate added that while they “appreciated” the Jenners’ apology, “the matter has yet to be resolved.”
Arcade Fire recently fired back at Kylie and Kendall Jenner with their own line of shirts that emblazoned the band’s new logos atop the sisters’ images. All profits from those tour-exclusive shirts were given to charity.