Shenseea is facing a second copyright infringement lawsuit—in addition to the one for $US 10 million filed earlier this year over Lick—this time for US $450,000 over the music video for her 2019 song, Foreplay.
The suit has been filed by Stephanie Sarley, a California-based visual artist known for her Instagram “fruit art videos,” who had vowed in 2019 to take legal action against the Jamaican singer for stealing her artwork and embedding it in the Foreplay video.
According to court documents obtained by DancehallMag, Sarley is seeking US $150,000 each for alleged infringement on three of her works, plus attorney fees and costs.
The lawsuit was filed on October 21, 2022, in the United States District Court Central District of California, Western Division.
Shenseea, whose real name is Chinsea Linda Lee, her label Interscope Records, a subsidiary of UMG Recordings Inc, and 10 other persons (“DOES 1-10”), who are known only by their aliases, are named as the defendants in the suit, the court records show.
Sarley has alleged that Shenseea’s original Foreplay video, which has since been removed from YouTube, infringed on her “unique line of sensual fruit imagery”.
The images are covered by Copyright Office Registration Nos. PA0002064875 (“Untitled”), PA0002137289 (“Stephanie Sarley”), and PA0002222186 (“Juicy Fruits”), and are collectively referred to in the suit, as the “Original Works.”
Foreplay was released in October 2019, after Shenseea signed with Interscope Records and Rvssian‘s Rich Immigrants in May of that year.
The track was produced by Rvssian, while the credits for the allegedly infringing music video were attributed to RD Studios and Romeich Entertainment, which is headed by Shenseea’s co-manager Romeich Major, and who offered no comment when DancehallMag contacted him about this story.
The complaint noted that the original Foreplay video had incorporated “nearly forty seconds of footage” from the “Original Works (sometimes altered slightly in tone or hue)”.
It included a collection of side-by-side comparisons of screenshots from the original Foreplay video and images of Sarley’s “Original Works” in two exhibits.
See a sample of the exhibits below.
“Sarley never authorized or granted any license to use any portion of the Original Works in the Infringing Work, and Defendants never contacted Sarley or her representatives in order to obtain licenses,” the lawsuit claimed.
Sarley is seeking “an award of damages, including actual damages and the disgorgement of any and all gains, profits and advantages obtained by Defendants, as a result of their acts of infringement in an amount according to proof at trial, or, alternatively, for an award of statutory damages in an amount of up to $150,000 per work infringed, according to proof at the time of trial; and 2. For attorney’s fees and costs”.
Sarley Threatened To Take Legal Action Since 2019
Sarley, who has been featured in many high-profile magazines such as Playboy, and the Guardian newspaper, had made a post on her Instagram page on October 30, 2019, expressing shock and horror that Shenseea had lifted her work without permission and without giving due credit, and swore she would take legal action.
Sarley, at the time, had pointed out that she had been having issues with intellectual property theft for a while, but declared that Shenseea’s misuse of her work was the last straw, as a day earlier she posted an excerpt from a law book regarding copyright infringement, and noted that no longer could people “rip off” her images from the internet.
“Holy sh*t no she just ripped off my entire video throughout her entire video. its literally all there is my video and her dancing on it. I feel so violated,” the artist had written under screenshots of the alleged violations in the music video.
“Oh man turning my exact video doubled and upside down should really do the trick! Who the fck fcked me like this… Now I can take them to small claims court for copyright infringements that are too small for federal but are effecting my work greatly like what happened to my Cream Cup image and Blood Orange video going viral,” Sarley had declared, as she pointed to the to new developments as justice and progress for online creators who are being taken advantage of.
There was a huge uproar from Sarley’s Instagram followers back then, who not only kept tagging Shenseea in their comments, but urged the artist to sue the Jamaican and not to let her off the hook.
Some had pointed out that if Sarley stole Shenseea’s song or lyrics, she would be sued and that this case was no different, so the American should lawyer up and not allow the Trending Gyal artist to “get away with this.”
They then stormed over to Shenseea’s YouTube channel to comment on the raunchy video, in which Shenseea lies in a bathtub spreadeagled, where they pointed out the copyright infringement.
The video was subsequently removed from YouTube.
In early December 2019, Shenseea released an edited version of the Foreplay video, devoid of Sarley’s fruit clips.
It now stands at 19 million views on YouTube.
Shenseea’s latest lawsuit comes eight months after she and her label Interscope Records/UMG were slapped with an over $10 million dollar lawsuit over the use of elements of Denise Belfon’s Soca song Work, in the Jamaican singer’s Lick collaboration with rapper Megan Thee Stallion.
That complaint was filed in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York on March 4, 2022, by New York-based producer Anastas Hackett aka Pupa Nas-T.
In September this year, Shenseea and her label Interscope/UMG) asked a New York judge for more time to try to resolve Pupa Nas-T’s lawsuit outside of court.
In October, DancehallMag reported that Pupa Nas-T had asked the court for a stay in the matter, in order to seek new legal representation.
On November 14, 2022, the Court granted him an additional 30 days to do so.