Ariana Grande blew up social media on Tuesday after filing a $10 million lawsuit against Forever 21 for profiting from the use of her likeliness in some of their recent advertising. After a failed partnership with Ari, Forever 21 hired a model for a social media campaign who closely resembled the singer in her music video “7 Rings”– the captions even included some of her song lyrics.
Despite all of the buzz, suing for the unauthorized use of a celebrity’s likeness is not a new concept. Similarly to Ariana’s case, Jackie Onassis sued Dior for using a look-alike in an advertisement in 1984.
The court sided with Jackie O because, “a person, firm, or corporation that uses for advertising purposes, or for the purposes of trade, the name, portrait or picture of any living person without having first obtained the written consent of such person is guilty of a misdemeanor,” according to the court documents.
“At first, I was skeptical…she shouldn’t be able to own a look,” SMU Communication Law Professor Jared Schroeder said.
After reading into the story, he noted that not only did Forever 21 attempt to form a relationship with Ariana and then hire a look-alike when it didn’t work out, but they also timed the campaign to come out with some of her new music.
“I think she has a good case,” Schroeder said. “They’re using her likeness without paying her.”
However, the case for Ari got a little dicey when famous drag queen Farrah Moan called her out on Twitter saying that the outfit Ariana was wearing in the “7 Rings” music video was actually copied from an outfit Moan posted on Instagram.
Although this does make the Twitter drama a whole lot more interesting, Ariana still has a solid case against the company.
“I still don’t think it changes Ariana’s case. She has evidence Forever 21 wanted her look, and when it didn’t get it, Forever 21 copied it,” Schroeder said.
Maybe Forever 21 shouldn’t have listened to Ari’s lyrics so closely. Sometimes you can’t just see it, like it, want it, and then get it – without permission, of course.