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Ahead of the release of Drake and 21 Savage’s highly anticipated album “Her Loss,” the duo released waves of promotional material including a fake performance on NBC’s Saturday Night Live, a fake interview on Howard Stern’s SiriusXM Radio Show, and — in an unexpectedly controversial turn — a faux issue of Vogue. Amongst the plethora of memes mocking 21 Savage and Drake for their mannerisms and the controversy surrounding their reference to rapper Megan Thee Stallion’s shooting, the aforementioned fake Vogue cover has proved to be their largest issue. Now, the duo is facing a $4 million lawsuit.
On Nov. 7, Vogue’s publisher Condé Nast levied a seven-claim, 30-page suit against the rappers for reproducing Vogue’s work without permission from the company itself and, in doing so, confusing consumers. The main claim from the lawsuit is that of “trademark infringement,” which is defined as “a violation of the exclusive rights attached to a trademark without the authorization of the trademark owner or any licensees.”
Condé Nast claimed that the bulk of their promotional campaign for the album was “built entirely” on the use of Vogue’s trademarks in promotional photos, which led fans to believe that the two rappers were featured in an upcoming issue of the magazine. The photo was originally posted on Instagram, where the duo, combined, have amassed over 139 million followers.
According to TMZ, Drake and his legal team were surprised by the lawsuit. After utilizing various parodies preceding the album release, it does not seem that the duo expected any form of backlash from companies. However, according to Barton Beebe, a law professor at New York University, other companies may soon follow suit. In face of these new legal challenges, the picture has been deleted from all official social media platforms.
Lawsuits similar to this one are not new in the entertainment industry. In fact, there are several celebrities who have found themselves entangled in corporate lawsuits and cases of copyright infringement[ such as, including Ed Sheeran, Justin Bieber, Lil Nas X, Taylor Swift, Dua Lipa, and more. So, it is likely that Drake and 21 Savage are going to survive this lawsuit. In fact, many have even suggested that the lawsuit will help the album since “any publicity is good publicity.”
Multiple legal experts believe that Condé Nast has a real chance against the rappers, with some even referring to the lawsuit as an “easy case” for Vogue. Nevertheless, the entire situation speaks to a larger, more complex phenomenon in society: the ease in which technology allows us to build a false image.
In a world where TikTok, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, and various other forms of social media are becoming increasingly popular, the consequences become clearer with time. Of course, there are several pros of social media, including the ability to connect people and fans across the world. However, social media also makes it incredibly easy for people to falsify their lives; it allows people to paint smiles behind frowns, alter narratives of what their lives look like, and in the case of 21 Savage and Drake, social media allows individuals to create completely fraudulent advertisements for their own personal gain.
No matter how the 21 Savage and Drake lawsuit ends, it will certainly be memorable for the rapper duo and fans alike. Whether Condé Nast’s efforts against the duo end up in her loss or their loss, the lawsuit will likely serve as precedent for future cases and a memorable event in today’s pop culture
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