Judge Orders Cam’ron to Pay $50K For Using Copyrighted Image Of Himself On Dipset Merch

A federal judge has ordered Cam’ron to pay more than $50,000 to a photographer for using her photo – a shot of the Dipset rapper wearing a fuzzy pink coat and hat while holding a matching flip phone – on a slew of merchandise without permission.

A year after Djamilla Cochran sued the rapper (real name Cameron Giles) and his company Dipset Couture for slapping her image on merch, Judge William Martini ruled Thursday that he had indeed committed copyright infringement. It was an easy win for Cochran, since Cam never responded to the lawsuit or offered any defenses.

In his ruling, the judge ordered Cam to pay $40,530 in so-called statutory damages — many times the $5,790 licensing fee that Getty Images would have charged him to use the image on commercial products if he had sought permission.

“The court finds that a statutory damages award of seven times the licensing fee is sufficient to compensate plaintiff for the infringement of her copyright and to deter future infringements by punishing the defendants,” the judge said. He also ordered the rapper to repay the $10,691 that Cochran spent to bring the lawsuit – a common add-on penalty in copyright cases.

A rep for Cam’ron did not immediately return a request for comment.

Cochran’s image (featured above this story) captured Cam’ron at a New York fashion show in 2003, wearing a flashy shade of pink that would become a key part of his brand identity. In 2016, GQ magazine used the photo atop an article titled “Cam’ron Is Very Particular When It Comes to the Color Pink,” saying that the rapper had “defined himself with an iconic pink mink coat” at that fashion show.

In an April lawsuit filed in New Jersey federal court, Cochran claimed that Cam had featured the image on t-shirts, jewelry and a slew of other merchandise sold by his Dipset Couture — including shower curtains, pillows, swimsuits, socks and even a birthday cake.

The complaint came with numerous screenshots of Dipset Couture’s product listings and Cam’ron’s posts promoting them, and said Cam’ron had been alerted numerous times that he was using the image without a license.

“Getty Images notified defendants of their infringing activities by mail and email on multiple occasions,” Cochran’s lawyers wrote. “Despite those notifications, defendants continued to sell merchandise and continued to display the photograph on website and accounts.”

While it might sound unfair to a celebrity, the copyrights to a photo are almost always retained by the person who snapped it. Being featured in an image doesn’t grant someone a right to use it for free, and certainly not on commercial merchandise.

That’s not a new dilemma for stars. Over the last few years, Miley Cyrus, Dua Lipa, Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande, Emily Ratajkowski, LeBron James, Katy Perry and others have all faced copyright cases after they re-used photos of themselves snapped by someone else.

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