Rihanna's Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque photo shoot curtailed

Rihanna does seem to have a knack for making faux-pas when it comes to on-location photo shoots. In September 2011 a Northern Irish farmer asked her, politely, if she wouldn't mind putting on some more clothes or choosing a different location other than his field to film the music video for We Found Love. This weekend she was asked to leave the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi after posing for some 'inappropriate pictures.' According to the mosque, at first she tried to gain access via an entrance that isn't intended for visitors. When she did make it in through the correct gate, she proceeded to pose for some photos. Photography in the grounds of the mosque isn't forbidden, but its guardians do keep an eye on how it's done. They don't want the sanctity of the space to be violated by lascivious lounging or provocative posing. Anyone can take photos for personal use without permission, but commercial photography does need to be pre-arranged. While it is unclear if Rihanna was a little too risqué in her modelling, she definitely didn't have permission. According to a spokesperson for the mosque, Rihanna's trip hadn't been co-ordinated with the admnistration and she, and her entourage, was asked to leave.

At least she turned up appropriately dressed, in a black jumpsuit and headscarf. Her experiences in a field in Northern Ireland seem to have taught her something. It's probably a good idea to speak to management before starting a photoshoot in the grounds of one of the UAE's most visited buildings, however.

If you're interested, some photos taken outside the mosque wound their way onto her Instagram stream.

Headline image courtesy of Wikipedia.

Headsup to Yahoo! News

When Rihanna sued Topshop over a t-shirt

Topshop, the clothing emporium that was some kind of mecca for my friends when we were teenagers but never, ever had clothes to fit me, has just lost a multi-million pound court case to Rihanna, who accused it of 'passing off' a t-shirt with her mug on the front of it.

The t-shirt in question was a square-cut sleeveless jobby called the 'Rihanna Tank' by Topshop and it featured an image of her with her hair piled on top of her head. The original photo was shot during the video shoot for We Found Love. Yes, that's right, it was taken during 'that' shoot when a Northern Irish farmer politely told her to put on some more clothes if she wanted to film on his land. (What a contentious song it have proved to be.) Topshop then licensed it from the photographer, printed it on a bundle of t-shirts without Rinhanna's approval, and found themselves with a hefty legal bill.

There doesn't seem to have been any issue about the actual photo, just the way that Topshop used it. So what was the problem? To be proved as 'passing off,' the accusation needs to stand three tests:

  1. The claimant (in this case Rihanna) needs to have established a reputation (she's got one of those)
  2. The defendant (here, Topshop) needs to have misled the public (that is, caused them to think Rihanna endorsed the t-shirt)
  3. Some form of 'damage' (in this case to Rihanna's reputation) needs to have occurred.

The judge, Mr Justice Birss, thought that Topshop was responsible for passing off. However, he was quite clear that there is 'no such thing as a general right by a famous person to control the reproduction of their image' and that the photo didn't breach Rihanna's privacy.

My not-legally-trained and using-common-sense reading of the judgement is that the image Topshop used was too similar to the images that appeared on the album artwork for Talk that Talk. As a consequence some poor misguided souls who actually want to go around wearing a t-shirt with a picture of Rihanna on it might have bought it thinking that she had some how approved it and it was potentially related to the album.

With respect to Rihanna, the judge ruled that this could be deemed damaging to her 'goodwill' and reputation in the fashion spehere. Obviously Rihanna needs to protect her reputation in the fashion sphere now that she has endorsed a range of clothes at Topshop-rival River Island. Make sense now?

Do we have to start worrying about people suing the pants off of photographers in an attempt to protect their images? Probably not yet. The judge was quite clear about that.

Headsup to the BBC and the Guardian

Inspiration in slow motion

Screen shot 2011-03-16 at 15.27.36

Remember Glide 2, that awesome slow motion video of a train pulling into a station that we featured last autumn, made by research mathematician Graeme Taylor? Well, it seems as if it might possibly have inspired a music video by British indie folk band SixToes. The video for their song Low Guns is seven seconds of a tube train running through Ravenscourt Park Station slowed down to last almost four minutes.

Look familiar, and rather cool?

As for Graeme, he told me that he ‘rather likes it’. That’s a bit of a different reaction to David LaChapelle’s response to Rihanna’s S&M video, isn’t it?