top of page


Court settles unlicensed use of Miles Davis photo for tattoo

The jury in downtown LA took only a few hours to decide the purportedly infringing tattoo wasn't substantial similar to the photo.

By EDVARD PETTERSSON, Contributing Writer


LOS ANGELES (CN) — Celebrity tattoo artist Kat Von D prevailed in the copyright infringement trial over her unlicensed use of a photo of Miles Davis for the tattoo she inked on the arm of a friend.

The jury in downtown LA on Friday took only a few hours to reject the claims by photographer Jeff Sedlik. He sued Von D because she hadn't approached him for a license to use the photo he took in 1989 of the jazz legend raising his index finger to his lips in a "shush" gesture.

​Jurors concluded that the tattoo wasn't substantial similar to the original photograph and that any social media posts that


The late Miles Davis.

showed Sedlik's photo in the background of Kat Von D working on the tattoo was fair use.


Robert Allen, Sedlik's attorney, said the verdict seemed a hurried decision and that they would appeal.

"The question of substantial similarity should never have gone before the jury," Allen said. "That should have been decided as a matter of law."

Sedlik had sought about $45,000 in compensatory damages for willful infringement, for the tattoo and social media posts by the artist showing her work on the tattoo, or $150,000 in statutory damages.

Allen said the case was never about money but about protection the rights of all visual artists. If the tattoo wasn't found to be substantial similar to Sedlik's photo, he said, than no intellectual property rights of visible artists were safe.

Katherine Von Drachenberg, who goes by Kat Von D, rose to fame through her appearances on the reality TV shows Miami Ink and LA Ink, the latter of which was shot at her High Voltage Tattoo shop in Hollywood. Now a stay-at-home mom, Von D testified on Wednesday that she hasn't charged anyone for a tattoo in over a decade and only has done work for friends for free.

"I'm excited to be done," Von D said after the verdict. "If we didn't fight this, it would have done so much harm to an industry that's already struggling."

The Miles Davis tattoo had been a gift to Von D's friend Blake Farmer, a lighting technician who worked on some shoots for her makeup business in 2017. After talking with Farmer, who plays trumpet himself, and learning how important Miles Davis was to him, she offered to create a tattoo of the musician.

Von D told the jurors that no one in the tattoo world gets a licenses to use a photograph as a reference for their creations. She maintained her use of the Miles Davis was "fair use" because it was her interpretation of the image and served an entirely different purpose than Sedlik's work.

Farmer provided Von D with the photo that became the subject of the copyright lawsuit. Sedlik, however, turned out to be a stickler when it comes to unlicensed use of his work; he regularly scans the internet to find infringers. He testified how in 2014 he tracked down another tattoo artist who had posted on social media a tattoo he had done based on the same Miles Davis photo.

That artist got away with a free retroactive license after Sedlik contacted him and agreed to waive a $5,000 licensing fee as a "professional courtesy" because, he testified, the artist apologized and showed contrition for not seeking a license beforehand.

Von D said after the verdict that she may never create another tattoo again because her heart had been crushed by the ordeal. She added that she might make an exception for Farmer, who testified at the trial, because the lawsuit had tainted his Miles Davis tattoo.

Jamie Foxx remains hospitalized in stable condition


Jamie Foxx

HOLLYWOOD (MNS)—Nearly a week after collapsing in an undisclosed location in Atlanta, where he was filming Netflix's Back in Action, Jamie Foxx remains hospitalized, but reportedly in stable condition.


One new report suggests the actor is undergoing various tests to determine the cause of the "medical complication," according to CNN.

"They are running tests and still trying to figure out what exactly happened," a source affiliated with the actor told the news network. The spokesperson for the actor said the medical complication didn't occur on-set or while he was filming scenes, and that He wasn't taken to the

hospital in an  ambulance, but by private vehicle instead.

The exact medical scare hasn't been revealed or reported on, and Foxx's state was first revealed through a family statement shared by his daughter Corinne.

"We wanted to share that my father, Jamie Foxx, experienced a medical complication yesterday," she wrote in a statement shared on Instagram. "Luckily, due to quick action and great care, he is already on his way to recovery. We know how beloved he is and appreciate your prayers. The family asks for privacy during this time."

In addition to Back in Action, Foxx has long been attached to Todd McFarlane's long-gestating Spawn reboot.

"I know that in all my conversations with Jamie, he's never wavered on being in this movie, actually, to the opposite, he leaves me messages all the time like 'Let's get going, man, come on man. The moments here we gotta strike. Let's go,'" Spawn creator Todd McFarlane told in an interview last year. "We've been talking about this being a sophisticated movie, right? I mean, I've been up on stage going, I'm gonna write, produce, direct and here it is going to be. I've been pushing that on Jamie and he's sort of in that world."

"The writers want to do something different. Let's leave it at that, they don't want to repeat (what anyone has done)," McFarlane added.


Will Smith's right cross (slap) to Oscar presenter comedian Chris Rock, was seen globally, Sunday, March 27. screen grab


Will Smith’s ‘sucker punch,’ er, slap, was seen

around the world. But is he the villain?


When 15.4 million people watched the 94th edition of the Academy Awards to see who would win for the best performance, no one could imagine that Oscar-nominated Will Smith would morph into Best Action Hero and Actor/Comedian Chris Rock, Best Stunt Performer.  

In the heat of Rock's announcement of the Best Documentary, Smith made a bold decision to stop Rock from degrading his wife about her bald head. 

He slapped Rock into next week. Rock, completely caught off-guard by the assault (yes, it was an assault) tried to salvage the moment claiming it was "just a joke."


Jada Pinkett-Smith is a brave and transparent woman. It is no secret that she suffers from alopecia. She shared her medical condition in 2018. 

The world was stunned after witnessing the drama and trauma between the two on the night of the biggest awards show in the entertainment industry. It was a train wreck.

Is "just a joke" an acceptable excuse? Are comedians immune to making remarks, in the vein of a joke, that are offensive, racist, sexist, homophobic or downright inhumane? Rock, as a father of two Black daughters, a son of a Black woman, and brother of a Black sister—how could he demean any woman for having fake hair, bad hair or no hair? 

Rock produced a documentary in 2009, "Good Hair." The storyline, partly in response to his daughters' concern about not having "good hair," gave us a comedic but honest look at the relationship of African American women and hair. 

How ironic is it that Rock's ex-wife is the founder of StyleWorks, a non-profit, full-service hair salon that provides free services for women leaving welfare and entering the workforce?


Rock's comments about Mrs. Pinkett-Smith hairlessness took us backward. Hair discrimination is real. Whether you wear your hair shaven as a women or braids down your waist, if Corporate America is uncomfortable with Black natural hair, it cause a problem from getting fired, not get hired or promoted, and disrespect.   It took the passage of the "Crown Act," to legally stop Corporate America from discriminating against African American natural hairstyles. 

If the table was turned, would Rock be okay, if people talked about the alcoholism in his family, his addiction to drugs and pornography, and his nonverbal learning disability? Probably not.  After all, Rock admitted he was bullied and beaten as a kid. It is a well-known fact that victims of bullying could become a bullying perpetrator. Disguising bullying as a joke is unacceptable.

In a survey among Black women, here's what I learned: this is a collective SNAFU.  There are a number of people responsible for this drama. Why didn't Rock know about her condition or maybe he didn't care? Why didn't his team inform him when he decided to write those comments in his monologue? What was the production team, producers, directors, and writers thinking at the rehearsal?


Smith issued an apology for striking Rock at Sunday's Academy Awards. In a post on Instagram on Monday, Smith called his behavior “unacceptable and inexcusable.”

What should Rock do now? A verbal apology by Rock to the public with a private apology to Mrs. Pinkett-Smith, her husband, and family would be a start. Rock should donate a sizable amount to the National Alopecia Areata Foundation, the leading organization dedicated to supporting people and families affected by alopecia areata and educating the public about this condition. 

Rock offended a public figure, her husband and family, as well as her friends and business associates. The joke was neither funny nor cute. It was brutal. Alopecia affects more than 6 million people in America. The condition is known as a polygenic disease and 147 million worldwide suffer from it. Imagine losing the hair on your head, face, and body? The autoimmune disease has no cure, effective treatment or standard of care.

What can Smith do? His acceptance speech included an apologetically and explanation "as a defender and protector of family." That said, who is protecting our Black women? Research shows that Black women are harassed, humiliated, degraded, forgotten, hunted, judged, disrespected, and discarded proportionately higher than any other race.

At the end of the day, violence is not the answer; however, what would you have done, and if it were your spouse, what would they expect?  Most likely, this incident will continue to be debated and social media will remain on fire with opinions. 

Facts: Smith faced a bully. Rock fell from grace.

Score: One for the superhero. Zero for the supervillain. 

The Aftermath: Life imitates art and Everybody Hates Chris.

Oscar winner Denzel Washington said it best, "In your highest moments, be careful, that’s when the devil comes for you."


Marie Y. Lemelle, MBA is the founder and chief executive of Platinum Star Public Relations. Contact her at (213) 276-7827.

bottom of page