Grammy Award-winning Jazz singer Esperanza Spalding is currently in the midst of a legal battle with photographer Kevin Ryan over the cover art on her 2012 album Radio Music Society (pictured above). The cover shows Spalding sitting atop a vintage boombox that is actually a sculpture made of pictures attached to a wooden box.
Spalding and her people chose to use the piece on the cover after discovering it at Brooklyn’s Galapagos Art Space. The issue is that they neglected to credit or license Ryan, who was the photographer behind the photos on the box.
Calling the boombox her “totem,” Spalding has since used the image as a stage prop, selling it on T-shirts and e-cards, and failing to credit Ryan even after he requested that she do so. Ironically, Ryan is actually a fan of Spalding’s, but given the commercial use he can’t just let this one go.
In an interview with The New York Post, he explains:
I love Esperanza, and I love her music, and, actually, I like the image … but you wish people would have done their due diligence.
As a result of that lack of diligence, Ryan has chosen to sue Spalding for $500K in Manhattan federal court. As of now, Spalding has declined to comment on the suit.