Kanye West’s “Famous” Video Is Infamous, But Will Any Celebrity Dare Sue?

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Yeezus, Kim Kardashian sued over what? The Supreme Court may tackle what what? Ray J better be prepared for what what what?
If an artist wished to purposely create a music video that would lead 50 judges to opine the work was legally permissible and another 50 judges to conclude the opposite, one could hardly do better than Kanye West’s video for “Famous,” which features realistic — and nude — depictions of celebrities including Donald Trump, Caitlyn Jenner, Bill Cosby, Taylor Swift and Chris Brown in bed with West and his wife, Kim Kardashian.

Undoubtedly, “Famous” is provocative. In fact, that could be its raison d’etre — as evidenced by West’s since-deleted tweet, “Can somebody sue me already #I’llwait.”

But will any of the celebrities depicted in the video indeed step forward to take a swing at this fastball-down-the-middle-of-the-courtroom piece of agit-pop? There are reasons why Rihanna, Jenner and other stars seen in the video might not, but we’ll get there in a moment. First, here’s a look at some of the potential legal claims, and what judges would be probably be asked to address.

A lawsuit against Kanye West (plus others who produced “Famous”) demanding money and an injunction against further distribution of the video would likely include a claim of violating the Lanham Act, a federal statute that prohibits false advertising and infringement of one’s trademarks. Essentially, the suing star would be arguing that their appearance in the video could be interpreted as an endorsement, to the extent that any reasonable viewer would be confused about the origins of the work.

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