Photographer Estevan Oriol Files Copyright Suit Against H&M, Brandy Melville

By Jay Casteel   /   Published 08/26/13

Estevan Oriol vs Brandy Melville - L.A. Hands T-Shirt

Renowned photographer/video director Estevan Oriol has filed a lawsuit against Swedish fashion brand H&M and fashion house Brandy Melville for the use of his copyrighted image known as "L.A. Fingers."

The photo was first used during a 1995 photo session, depicting a female model's long, ring-clad fingers forming the letters "L.A." for Los Angeles. The image has since become iconic and has been legally published worldwide in various magazines and Oriol-branded clothing.

The lawsuit alleges that both H&M and Brandy Melville grossly infringed on his protected works, using his "L.A. Fingers" photograph on a series of t-shirts that have been and continue to sell at their respective retail stores worldwide.

"If you put my photograph side-by-side with their re-creation of my image, anyone would tell you they are one in the same... they clearly copied my image," Oriol said.

Bradley and Daniel Yourist of the Yourist Law Corporation are representing Oriol in the suit, claiming the legal actions will serve as "a wake-up call to other retailers that routinely infringe upon, profit from, and trample on artists' protected intellectual property."

"On behalf of artists and creators everywhere, we will vigorously seek out aggressively pursue legal action against anyone who improperly uses an image at the expense of an artist," said Bradley J. Yourist in a statement.

At press time, the judgement Oriol is seeking is unknown.

  • Jesse

    local LA Dj gLAdiator's logo

  • Shane

    Definitely respect Oriol as a photographer and I hope he gets some money out of this, but to be fair, since the photo is a re-creation (i.e. different photo altogether), I believe what H&M did is legally permitted.

    The question is whether Oriol owns the trademark to the "L.A." hand sign, which I'm not sure you can completely copyright. Seems to me like it would be comparable to trying to copyright the middle finger. I don't know. I've seen other artists appropriate the "LA" hand sign.

  • Joseph Philbert

    I dont this lawsuit will go far .. you can not copyright the hand sign for L.A. The image they created is theirs.

  • http://paul-robinson.us/ Paul Robinson

    The "image" consists of someone crossing fingers. Only the original photo is protected, recreating the image by redoing it is not. If they copied his actual picture, there may be liability. If they simply took a picture of someone making the same symbol, there is no liability. (I believe the claim is a copyright violation, not a trademark violation.) A person who takes a picture of a building owns the copyright in that picture, if someone does a new photo by taking a picture of the same building to look exactly like theirs, it is not infringing.

    The photo by the Chicago Tribune of Truman holding up the "Dewey Defeats Truman" newspaper is copyrightable. If someone else had been able to take the exact same photo, the copyright on that would be separate from the Tribune's image and neither would infringe on the other.

  • Simon

    I agree it isn't stolen from him just someone liked the look and tried it them selves, now the person who took the photo of the fingers also has copyright to that photo so your right this will not last long.

  • GraphixChic

    A recreation is just an excuse for copyright infringement. It's extremely obvious his photograph was ripped off.

  • GraphixChic

    It's not the sign that's copyrighted... It's the photograph. At first glance I thought it was the exact same image.

  • Joseph Philbert

    How many images have been "ripped off" ... nothing is unique.