What’s law got to do with it? Tina Turner sues uncanny tribute act
Music legend Tina Turner, 81, sues a German tribute act for looking too much like her.
The ‘Simply the Best’ singer has turned to her ‘private lawyer’ in Germany, demanding an unauthorised tribute act remove her posters for fear that the public may mistake the lookalike for the real thing.
Turner first filed suit against Dorothea ‘Coco’ Fletcher last year when the posters were first released. Fletcher is originally from American, in her thirties and has been impersonating Turner for a number of years
The star’s legal team scored an initial victory after a court in Cologne, Germany, ruled the posters could indeed be misleading to punters, The Times reported.
But the posters were re-designed and Turner lost a follow-up case at the Court of Appeal, which ruled that the risk of confusion among the public did not outweigh Fletcher’s right of artistic expression.
The case has now reached the Federal Court of Justice. A lawyer representing Turner, sought to persuade the judges that the posters do not constitute ‘art’ and are merely advertising.
Meanwhile, Fletcher’s representation argued that the average fan would expect a tribute act to look like the real Tina Turner.
Entertainment lawyers at Collyer Bristow state that this case is unlikely to keep tribute acts off the UK stage, says
Howard Ricklow, partner at the firm said: “In asking ‘what’s law got to do with it’, Tina Turner is hoping to use European “right of personality” laws to determine how her image is used in public. Whilst much of European copyright law applies in the UK, there is no such right in the UK. Actions in the UK rely on “passing off” laws.”
“The ability of artists to stop tribute artists is not straightforward, but generally the fans will need to have been confused or misled about who they were seeing with the promoter in this case saying “only a chronically stupid person is likely to confuse a tribute artist with the real thing.”
However, it is slightly more complex if a tribute act moves from live performances to recorded outlets, “different rules will apply as would be the case if the artist has registered a trade mark protecting their name”, said Ricklow.