The US singer and songwriter Chris Brown has come under fire for copying several artists’ work in his sexually suggestive Wobble Up music video, featuring Nicki Minaj and G-Eazy. Brown and his frequent collaborator Arrad directed the video, which was released on Monday.
The German artist Marius Sperlich immediately took to social media to say two of his works from 2018–one showing a breast with a temperature dial for a nipple and the other of buttocks poking out of the water to resemble a tropical island–had been used without credit. The Berlin-based digital artist Tony Futura also claims his lemon breasts, one of them pierced with a silver ring, have been copied, as have unspecified works by the London-based photographers Vanessa Mckeown and Catherine Losing.
Posting on Instagram, Sperlich says that intellectual property must be “protected at any cost”, particularly now that social media allows content to be share instantly and without credit. “For many the internet is just an open source of concepts, ideas and free content,” he says. “Nobody cares about creation, originals and credit anymore. Especially if you are a young and an emerging artist… most can’t afford a lawyer for a lawsuit. So most of them remain silent. We won’t stay silent.”
Sperlich says he is in touch with the production company behind the video. “However, this situation is unfortunately not the first time this has happened to me and my work and neither am I the only artist suffering under plagiarism and theft of IP.” Brown did not respond to a request for comment by the time of publication.
Sperlich is now calling for other artists whose work has been copied to share their stories using the hashtag #changeindustry. “Stop accepting mistreatment in the fear of being blackballed in the industry,” he urges. “If you stay silent, you enable them. Credit where it’s due!”