Celebrity photographer sues Rod Stewart for $2.5 million over picture

Fri Sep 5, 2014 5:15pm EDT
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By Andrew Chung

(Reuters) - A renowned celebrity photographer is suing Rod Stewart and Caesars Entertainment for $2.5 million, accusing them of copying her famous photo of the rocker and his unmistakable spiked mullet to promote his Las Vegas show and world tour.

Bonnie Schiffman, who has snapped pictures of celebrities including Michael Jackson, Muhammad Ali, Steven Spielberg and Andy Warhol, said Stewart, Caesars and several others replicated her 1981 photo without permission or paying her, according to a lawsuit filed in Los Angeles federal court on Thursday.

The photograph was used as the cover of Stewart's multi-platinum 1989 greatest hits album, "Storyteller."

"It has a powerful punch for the millions of fans that know that album," said Schiffman's attorney, William Hochberg. "We think that’s why they're using it."

Representatives for the 69-year-old Stewart could not be reached for comment. A spokeswoman for Caesars said the company does not comment on pending litigation.

The Caesars image is not the exact one captured by Schiffman, but both show Stewart and his tousled spiky hair from the back. Hochberg said that could still be called infringement.

"It's a rip off of the photo my client took," he said.

Stewart and his handlers offered Schiffman $1,500 in 2013 to use her image for a billboard, but she balked at the low figure, the suit said.   Continued...

British singer Rod Stewart, performs during the 55th International Song Festival in Vina del Mar city, about 121 km (75 miles) northwest of Santiago, February 27, 2014. REUTERS/Eliseo Fernandez