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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Photographer Sues Fela On Broadway

A Brooklyn New York-based photographer, Marilyn Nance,  is suing "FELA! on Broadway" for allegedly ripping off a picture of the late musician’s Africa Shrine that features prominently in the Tony-award winning musical.
Nance said her shot of the late musician Fela Kuti's Nigerian nightclub is being used without permission as part of the production design for the critically acclaimed hit show, which is set inside the "Africa Shrine."

Nance's Manhattan federal court suit -- which seeks $150,000-plus in damages for copyright infringement -- alleges that her photo is projected "onto or above" the stage and "effectively serves as the backdrop for the FELA! set."

The cast of "Fela!" performs onstage during the 64th Annual Tony Awards at Radio City Music Hall.
A chart attached to the filing calculates that the image was displayed during 40 percent of the June 27 performance of FELA!, which is produced by Jay-Z and Will Smith and Jada Pinkett-Smith.

The photo also appears in the show's $10 souvenir program book with a bogus attribution to "Monique Carboni," as well as in the booklet for the $25 original cast recording CD and a promotional music video, the suit alleges.

Nance says she snapped the shot in 1977 while traveling on a bus through Lagos, Nigeria, before the club was destroyed in a fire "reportedly set by the government, amid violence, and the arrest of Fela Kuti and others in the Shrine."

It was first published in the 2003 book "Black President: The Art andLegacy of Fela Anikulapo Kuti," and has been shown in exhibitions at the downtown New Museum and elsewhere.
Representatives for FELA! claim that Nance's claim is unmerited and she waited too long to bring it to their attention.

"Last month the Broadway production of FELA! was notified of a claim based on the productions’ inclusion of a photograph of a public building in Lagos, Nigeria into the show’s video projection. We tried to resolve the claim, but could not, and are now in the process of replacing the image. Unfortunately this photographer waited two years to voice an objection to our use of this image. Had she notified us earlier, we would’ve replaced it then. We believe her claim is without merit," said FELA! publicist Richard Kornberg.


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