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Thursday, October 13, 2022

suing for being too much of lookalike - Tina Turner case

The movie Billa directed by R Krishnamurthy was a turning point in the career of its hero Rajanikant.  The title named after a child kidnapper and murderer was in very bad taste !!    The movie was about a powerful ganglord, who remains elusive of the police net – he jumps into Coovum river when Alexander (played by Balaji) chases him.  Alexander arranges a doppelgänger Rajappa to infiltrate into hardcore group of criminals.   A doppelgänger   is a biologically unrelated look-alike, or a double, of a living person.   

Tina Turner (born Anna Mae Bullock) is an American-born Swiss singer and actress. Widely referred to as the "Queen of Rock 'n' Roll", she rose to prominence as the lead singer of the Ike and Tina Turner Revue before launching a successful career as a solo performer. Turner began her career with Ike Turner's Kings of Rhythm in 1957. Under the name Little Ann, she appeared on her first record, "Boxtop", in 1958. In 1960, she debuted as Tina Turner with the hit duet single "A Fool in Love".  In the 1980s, Turner launched "one of the greatest comebacks in music history". Her 1984 multi-platinum album Private Dancer contained the hit song "What's Love Got to Do with It", which won the Grammy Award for Record of the Year and became her first and only number one song on the Billboard Hot 100. At age 44, she was the oldest female solo artist to top the Hot 100.  Having sold over 100 million records worldwide, Turner is one of the best-selling recording artists of all time. She has received 12 Grammy Awards, which include eight competitive awards, three Grammy Hall of Fame awards, and a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.  

This is no post on the singer, nor songs nor Grammy awards – but on a news that Tina Turner  sued  a tribute act based in Germany for looking too much like her.  The American singer, past 80 years of age duked out in court with Dorothea 'Coco' Fletcher, aged in her 30s, who performed in an unofficial tribute show called Simply The Best.

It was contended by Turner's lawyers that Fletcher looks so much alike in promotional posters that fans may mistakenly think the real Tina is involved in the show. The case reached Germany's Federal Court of Justice which was looked upon anxiously as  a ruling  could radically reshape the multi-billion dollar tribute act industry.

                          This was a case of Turner  suing over the poster of Fletcher, which she said was  so similar in appearance that it risked confusing fans.  The lawsuit was against Cofo Entertainment, a German firm that represented Fletcher and other tribute acts that imitate Elvis Presley, The Beatles, and Frank Sinatra. Turner first filed suit against the company - based in Bavaria -  when posters for Simply The Best were released.  Her legal team scored an initial victory after a court in Cologne ruled the posters could indeed be misleading to punters !  But the posters were re-designed and Turner lost a follow-up case at the Cologne Court of Appeals, which ruled that the risk of confusion among the public did not outweigh Fletcher's right of artistic expression.

The case then reached the Federal Court of Justice.  Kerstin Schmitt, a lawyer representing Turner, sought to persuade the judges that the posters do not constitute 'art' and are merely advertising.  Turner would like to decide when her name and image are used for commercial purposes,' Schmitt told the court. But Brunhilde Ackermann, lawyer for the entertainment company, hit back - saying the average fan would expect a tribute act to look like the real Tina Turner.

Fletcher, who is originally American, has been performing as Turner for years as an unofficial tribute act.  Only a 'chronically stupid person who looks at everything superficially' would get the two confused, she said. She also warned that a binding ruling on behalf of the court could potentially wreck a multi-billion dollar industry that has long-standing recognition as legitimate. 

Judge Thomas Koch then questioned whether the motivation for Turner's lawsuit is that she endorses a rival official tribute act.  Early this year, the Tina Turner tribute act  won a huge court case against the star, who was suing her because she looked too alike.    In her lawsuit, Turner, who found too many similarities between her and Fletcher's 'lion manes' demanded a ban on the use of her name and likeness from posters advertising the show in case fans thought she was involved in its production. However, Cofo Entertainment tour organiser Oliver Forster argued that the show has been performed over 100 times across Germany, Austria and Switzerland, and no one has ever complained that they did not get to see the real Tina Turner.

The court case  lasted for two years and the Federal Court of Justice finally made its decision by ruling in favour of Fletcher in Feb 2o22.  While the official verdict stated artistic freedom outweighs personality rights, presiding judge Thomas Koch said the controversial posters did not give out the impression that Turner supported or was by any means involved in the show.   The respondent remarked - when the original Tina Turner thinks that the cast member on our show looks so much like her, it still ranks as a special compliment somewhere.'

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
13th Oct 2022. 

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