Example of Zombie Makeup, Image Courtesy of Vancouver Film School via FlickrI know it can be annoying or often downright difficult to figure out what is fair use and what is not fair use of copyrighted material, but that never means it is 100% free to distribute or even rebrand it as your own. If you think about it, adhering to the rules of protected intellectual property (IP) is really just a complicated version of a lesson we all learned in kindergarten: Don’t take what isn’t yours. 

Lil’ Kim seemed to have forgotten kindergarten late last year. When she used Canadian makeup artist Samantha Ravndahl’s photo without her permission to promote a song “Dead Gal Walking,” Ravndahl took notice. Ravndahl’s copyright lawsuit against Lil’ Kim demands $150,000 in damages. Lil’ Kim said that she was unaware of the actions her team made when it came to social media and promptly deleted the image as well as chose new album artwork. Given that Lil’ Kim uses Whosay (a social media tool made for celebrities as users) that asserts the celebrity uploader owns the copyright to the images, at the time it did not just heavily imply that Lil’ Kim owned the image, it clearly said so with a © symbol. Ravndahl continues to assert that Lil’ Kim does owe her for damages. 

The Takeaway

This became a messy situation and we at Traklight of course would never want something like this to happen to any other person. The point of the matter is that just because you don’t know the copyright status of a material or if you claim that it is not really you who is at fault, social media is not devoid of rules and original material is copyrighted by default. You can use our blog post 9 Free Creative Resources for Business to find the resources you need to make or edit images for social media.


Get some practice with those tools, because we’re inviting you to participate in our December Photo A Day Challenge! Join us the fun and use the hashtag #TLphotoaday and tag @traklight. Feel free to jump in at any date!

December Instagram Photo A Day Challenge by Traklight

Download the Ultimate Startup Toolkit to read the details of the biggest IP battles from this year and find other #instagood resources on Patents and Intellectual Property Best Practices. 

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