Guns N’ Roses are sued for copyright infringement, their manager is accused of sexual harassment.
Guns N’ Roses and its management team are facing a new lawsuit filed by photographer Katarina Benzova, with allegations of copyright infringement and sexual harassment in the workplace.
In her complaint, Katarina Benzova claims that GnR and its management company, Team Brazil, “have falsely claimed ownership » of a number of his photographs, which led to a violation « generalized » and unauthorized uses in print and digital media, in advertising campaigns and in other contexts.
Ms. Benzova also claims that GnR manager Fernando Lebeis made her “ numerous unwelcome sexual advances “. The complaint alleges that he committed a “ pervasive and constant sexual harassment ” in a ” work environment completely devoid of sexual harassment policy, sexual harassment training and human resources department “.
This lawsuit comes weeks after Guns N’ Roses filed their own lawsuit against Benzova, claiming she ” recorded inappropriately » her photos of the group to the Copyright Office and that she “ falsely alleged copyright infringement against various individuals and entities “. The group is seeking a declaration that Benzova’s recordings are ” invalid » and that she “didn’t no ownership rights to the copyright of the photographs and videos in question “.
In a press release sent to WECBGuns N’ Roses said: “ Ms. Benzova was originally hired to provide tour photography services to Guns N’ Roses in 2010. She worked with the band for 12 years, was paid and treated extraordinarily well. It was only after her services were discontinued in 2022 that she attempted to claim ownership of the photos, which the contract clearly states belong to the group. The group takes these types of allegations very seriously, but all evidence establishes that these accusations are categorically and unequivocally false. This response from him comes after the group filed a lawsuit against Ms. Benzova for falsely claiming ownership of the group’s photos. »
According to Ms. Benzova’s complaint, she worked regularly for Guns N’ Roses as a freelancer for 12 years, photographing ” 364 shows or 30 ‘stages’ » of the band’s tours between 2010 and 2022. During this period, she worked largely without an official contract (she only had one for about 18 weeks).
Ms. Benzova states that during the “ period without contract “, she was the sole owner of her photographs and that she obtained 180 copyright registrations for her work. She recognizes that, during the “ contractual period “, She ” did not need to authorize and approve » any commercialization of his photos because it was a “ work for others » according to the terms of the contract. But, according to her, during the non-contractual period, Guns N’ Roses and Team Brazil ” marketed at least 145 » of his photographs « without his authorization, against his consent and his objectively manifested intention “. She claims that these photos were reproduced, publicly exhibited and used to create advertisements.
For its part, GnR’s complaint against Benzova alleged that in 2010, Benzova signed a ” written engagement agreement ” stating that one of the band’s touring affiliates, Waterhead, would own the rights to his work. The group claimed that the terms of this agreement were “ extended by a fully executed oral modification ” as Benzova continued to work with GnR over the years.
Furthermore, GnR claims that Benzova has signed new “ Crew Member Employment Memorandums » in 2016 and 2021. These would stipulate that the copyright to his work would be held by another company affiliated with GnR’s tour, Gundam Productions.
Regarding Ms. Benzova’s sexual harassment allegations, she claims that GnR’s manager, Mr. Lebeis, sexually harassed her in a manner ” repeated and constant » from 2015. « Ms. Benzova made a conscious effort not to be alone with Mr. Lebeis because the latter’s severe and pervasive sexual harassment made her feel unsafe “, says the complaint.
Following Benzova’s multiple refusals, according to the complaint, Lebeis allegedly undertook to ” prove your dominance ” on her ” by other means “. He would have lowered his salary; withheld the money owed to him, allegedly “ demoted » at cheaper hotels, allegedly demanded that she pay for flights that Team Brazil had already agreed to pay for, and intentionally withheld photo credits.