Rihanna does not want you wearing her around without her consent.
According to Page Six, the singer is now suing British retailer Topshop for $5 million for selling T-shirts that bear her image.
A source told Page Six, “Rihanna’s management asked Topshop a number of times to stop selling her image and were told, ‘We do what we want.’ They buy the pictures from a photographer, but they do not pay the artist licensing fees. Unfortunately, UK law does not protect the artist."
Both sides reportedly tried to negotiate for rights for eight months, and Topshop is said to have offered her $5,000, but it sounds like they were planning to just keep doing it anyway. “What is most offensive for Rihanna is that they basically told her, ‘Go to hell. We don’t care; we are going to continue selling you.’ Topshop is now in the United States. They set up in Manhattan and Nordstrom, but they know better than to do this in the US because they would get in trouble."
The source said Rihanna has already spent almost $1 million in litigation, saying it's the principle of the thing that matters and she wants to make a statement. "They are taking advantage of artists," the source said. "It is just exploitation. What they are doing is wrong.”
What's considered "right," "wrong" and "legal" are often different things. For example, the British tabloids blur out the faces of celebrities's children to protect their privacy, whereas in the U.S. the kids's faces are considered fair game. Some people think that's wrong, but the laws are different everywhere you go.
But good for Rihanna for protecting her own image and making a stand. You don't want to mess with her!
UPDATE: She won! The story above was from May. According to a July 31 E! News report, a London judge ruled in favor of Rihanna, saying a "substantial number" of consumers were likely duped into buying the "Rihanna Tank" because of the "false belief" that RiRi had endorsed it. However, the judge noted that there's "no such thing as a general right by a famous person to control the reproduction of their image." He said the photo is not suggested to have breached Rihanna's privacy, and the sale of a T-shirt bearing the image of a famous person isn't an act of "passing off." However, he added, "I find that Topshop's sale of this T-shirt was an act of passing off." There was no ruling on the damages that need to be paid, but this is good news for Rihanna, even if it's just good news for her and perhaps not a precedent for future celeb lawsuits.