Los Angeles-based photographer Michael Miller has filed a lawsuit against Kylie and Kendall Jenner for copyright infringement over the use of his photos of the late Tupac Shakur on T-shirts sold under their Kendall + Kylie brand, according to court documents obtained by Billboard.
The complaint — submitted by Miller’s attorney, Scott Alan Burroughs — states “Miller at no time sought to associate his work with Kendall or Kylie or any of their companies,” yet they “have misappropriated and wrongfully exploited at least two original photographs of late hip-hop artist Tupac Shakur, slapping the iconic photographs on garments and overlaying them with dubious imagery and text,” then offered them for sale.
The Jenners “at no times notified Miller that they intended to exploit his photography, let alone obtained his authorization,” the lawsuit says.
It adds that “an association with Kendall is particularly problematic given that she was complicit in not one but two of the worst public relations disasters in recent memory,” in reference to this incident and her starring in the controversial Pepsi commercial pulled in April.
Miller registered the photographs in question with the U.S. Copyright Office before the alleged infringement, the complaint states.
Miller’s body of work includes images of performers and celebrities including Tupac, Angelina Jolie, Jack Nicholson, A$AP Rocky, Eazy E and more, as well as images for brands like Ferrari and Puma.
The T-shirts, which retailed at $125 each on the brand’s website before being taken down, had photos of the duo or their K + K logo layered over iconic images of Tupac and The Notorious B.I.G.
A representative for the Kylie + Kendall brand issued a statement on July 5, apologizing “for any insensitivity. When deciding to work with one-of-a-kind repurposed vintage tees, it was not the brand’s intent to offend anyone. These designs were randomly selected and not well thought out. The brand would like to apologize, especially to the artists that have been featured in the series. We did not mean to disrespect these icons and understand that we missed the mark completely. The designs have been removed. We sincerely apologize to the artists, their families and estates and anyone who may have been offended.”
Billboard has reached out to lawyers for Tupac’s estate for comment.
Notorious B.I.G.’s estate previously issued the following statement: “While we appreciate that the Jenners have made an apology and pulled the unlawful and unauthorized items, this matter has yet to be resolved.”