Beyoncé is the target of a new lawsuit alleging that the Lemonade trailer copied parts of an independent short film without permission.
The lawsuit was filed yesterday (June 8) by Matthew Fulks, a filmmaker from Louisville, Kentucky, who released a short film called Palinoia in 2014. In the lawsuit, he alleges that Beyoncé’s team watched his video while conceptualizing Lemonade, then borrowed unauthorized elements of his work while putting together one of the trailers for the HBO special.
Fulks says that in July of 2015, he sent Palinoia to members of Beyoncé’s creative team while he was in talks to direct a music video for a band called MS MR, who, like Beyoncé, are signed to Columbia. Filming for Lemonade began a few months later in December.
"Both the PALINOIA Work and the LEMONADE Trailer are comprised of short visual and audio segments arranged in montage fashion, with certain segments recurring throughout the works,” reads the lawsuit.
According to Fulks, the elements allegedly shared by the two works include "images of the central character in a state of distress,” "hand-painted graffiti words in similar styles,” “red persons with eyes obscured,” "garages with repeating ceiling light fixtures and columns with the lower halves of the columns painted yellow,” “overgrown grass,” and “stairwells."
The lawsuit also alleges that the audio of both works is similar. Both feature voice-overs of a narrator reciting a poem about a troubled relationship, and the soundtracks to each visual "follow a similar pattern in which harsh noises are separated by calmer sounds in a substantially similar time table."
Fulks is seeking profits from Lemonade’s album sales resulting from the allegedly unauthorized use of his work.