Vampire Weekend Album Cover Model Sues Band, Photographer for $2 Million

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by Cameron Handley


The woman featured on the cover of Vampire Weekend's best-selling 2010 album� �Contra� has filed a lawsuit against the band, its record label, and the photographer who provided the photograph, claiming that a model release for the photo was forged and her image was used for commercial purposes without her consent. She is seeking more than $2 million in damages.

Ann Kirsten Kennis, who says she was a professional model in New York City during the 1980s and 1990s, filed the lawsuit in Los Angeles County Superior Court July 14. The photographer she names in the suit is New York City-based Tod Brody. According to Kennis, Brody �produced a modeling photograph of [Kennis] which he had not taken...[and he] submitted a forged release signed by someone claiming to be 'Kirsten Johnsen'.�

In addition to appearing on the album cover, the flash-on-camera portrait of Kennis appeared on the band�s merchandise, in its advertising, and in live performances. Brody claims to have taken the image sometime in 1983, but Kennis and her lawyers claim that he didn�t take the picture.

Alan Neigher, one of Kennis' attorneys, told Entertainment Weekly that the photograph was only a Polaroid, not a professional photograph, and that Kennis' mother was a �chronic Polaroid snapshot taker.�

�We don't know who took the photograph,� Neigher said in a telephone interview with PDN. He also said that given Kennis' status as a model at that time, there is no reason why she would have agreed to such a photo op.

Brody told PDN that �Ms. Kennis, through her lawyers, has slandered and defamed [him] by claiming that her family took the photo.�

�We will easily prove in court that I took the photo,� he said.

Asked about the allegations that the model release was forged, Brody said, �I�m not going to comment on that. The attorneys will be handling it.�

In response to the lawsuit, Vampire Weekend�s record label, XL Recordings, issued a statement on behalf of the label and Vampire Weekend, stating, �As is standard practice, Vampire Weekend and XL Recordings licensed the rights to use the photo on the cover of Contra pursuant to a license agreement that contains representations and warranties authorizing this use of the photo.�

The defendants have not yet filed responses to Kennis�s claim in court, however, and a court date has not been set.
 

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