Rapper Cam’ron Must Pay $50k for Using Iconic Photo of Himself Without Permission

Cam'ron lawsuit
The iconic 2003 photograph of Cam’ron at the center of the lawsuit

Rapper Cam’ron has been ordered to pay $50,000 for using an iconic photo of him wearing a pink fur coat on a slew of merchandise without the photographer’s permission.

In 2003, photographer Djamilla Rosa Cochran captured a now-famous image of rapper Cam’ron wearing a fuzzy pink coat and headband while holding a matching pink flip phone at the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Show in New York.

Cochran’s photo would go on to become a popular internet meme and a defining image of Cam’ron’s persona and wider hip-hop culture.

However, in April last year, Cochran sued Cam’ron for using the 2003 image on a range of items sold in the rapper’s merchandise line Dipset Couture — including shirts, jewelry, swimsuits, bikinis, pillows, and towels.

The photo was also used on shower curtains and a pair of socks that Kim Kardashian reportedly got for her daughter North West.

According to Cochran, the rapper, whose real name is Cameron Giles, used the legendary photograph without any kind of license.

“Getty Images notified defendants of their infringing activities by mail and email on multiple occasions,” Cochran’s lawyers wrote in the complaint.

“Despite those notifications, defendants continued to sell merchandise and continued to display the photograph on website and accounts.”

Cam’ron Ordered to Pay Seven Times The Licensing Fee

On Thursday, Federal Judge William Martini decided that Cam’ron had committed copyright infringement when he used the iconic photo of himself on Dipset Couture’s merchandise.

According to XXL, the rapper has been ordered to pay Cochran $51,221.50 in total — of which $40,530 is being used for statutory damages and $10,691 for Cochran’s legal fees.

The $40,530 figure is seven times the $5,790 licensing fee that Getty Images would have charged Cam’ron to use the image on commercial products if he had sought permission for it.

“The court finds that a statutory damages award of seven times the licensing fee is sufficient to compensate the plaintiff for the infringement of her copyright and to deter future infringements by punishing the defendants,” the judge rules, according to court documents obtained by XXL.

XXL reports that Cam’ron didn’t put up a fight in the case either, as he never answered the lawsuit or provided any defense.

While Cochran may have won this case, rappers have been questioning whether photographers should own their photos of celebrities in recent years.

In 2022, Snoop Dogg said that photographers shouldn’t own their photos of celebrities after a photographer sued another rapper, Nas, for posting a copyrighted image on Instagram.

Meanwhile, last year, Jay-Z settled a lawsuit with a photographer over images that he was selling of the rapper — claiming that he made an “arrogant assumption that because he took those photographs, he can do with them as he pleases.”

Image credits: All photos sourced via Cochran v Dipset Couture LLC et al.