Posted in music on July 16, 2010

Vampire Weekend

You may have heard by now that Vampire Weekend, XL Recordings and a photographer named Tod Brody are being sued for 2 million dollars by Contra cover model Kirsten Kennis. She claims that she never gave permission for them to use a picture that was taken of her in 1983 (back when she was actually a model), and that the photographer basically tricked the band and label into thinking they were buying it legally. She says the band and label are also at fault for not doing due diligence when they paid $5000 for the picture from Tod. She thinks she deserves 2 million because her picture was obviously the reason the band's album was so successful... That's basically the info that most sites are posting, but I obtained a copy of the court documents and there's more...

First of all, her full name is Ann Kirsten Kennis, though when she was a model she just went by "Kirsten". She was a "high-fashion model under contract with prestigious agencies in New York City" in the 80's and early 90's. Her picture has appeared in clothing, jewelry, cosmetics and automobile ads, and for that she was "highly compensated" and "enjoyed numerous assignments".

She lives in Fairfield, CT, and most interestingly, she claims Tod didn't even take the picture. Her real last name doesn't even appear in the contract Vampire Weekend signed when they bought it. The allegedly forged/fake contract is with "Kirsten Johnsen" and signed by "Kirsten Johnson" (yes, the document has the last name spelled two different ways).

If Tod didn't take the picture, I'm not sure how he thought he would get away with it since she would obviously eventually see it. Whether he took it or not, it's still displayed in his portfolio (with "kirsten" in the file name), though his page that displayed the Vampire Weekend album cover is now gone.

Not content with all that, I went on a search for another picture of Kirsten, but unfortunately I came up dry though I do think I found a picture of her dog, and what might be her not-quite-operational "Cosmic Cubs" teddy bear website (which would be consistent with the possibility that her family is in the toy business). It's also possible that back before she was married, her name may have been Ann Klendshoj which is the name of someone who had a nasty run in with a creepy doctor in 1994. Speaking of creepy, I'll end this paragraph here.

Rostam from Vampire Weekend, Kid Cudi & Bethany of Best Coast made a new song for Converse. The video for that track, "All Summer", is below...

Converse - "All Summer" - Music Video

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Comments (72)

BV: investigative reporter.

Posted by Anonymous | July 16, 2010 3:47 AM

Ann Kirsten MEHnnis....

Posted by Anonymous | July 16, 2010 3:49 AM

uninterestingminorcelebritygossipvegan. who cares?

Posted by Anonymous | July 16, 2010 3:59 AM

Bit of a slow news day hey?? This will never come to pass.

Posted by Lawrence Poole | July 16, 2010 5:20 AM

slow news day? Its not even 7 AM yet. Get to class!! And don't worry about it.

Posted by Anonymous | July 16, 2010 6:42 AM

This is the woman you thought you'd forgotten

Posted by Anonymous | July 16, 2010 8:45 AM

that's not a flattering photo anyways

Posted by Anonymous | July 16, 2010 8:47 AM

BV should win the Pulitzer for this

Posted by Anonymous | July 16, 2010 8:48 AM

@847; I'd Hit it.

Posted by Anonymous | July 16, 2010 8:49 AM

Another reason indie bands shouldn't use a crappy old polaroid for an album cover. Woulda been cheaper to hire someone to shoot original work and get all the clearances.

Posted by jacob | July 16, 2010 8:50 AM

she's obviously pretty, just said it's not a flattering photo because she looks caught off guard

Posted by Anonymous | July 16, 2010 8:52 AM

I think the cover picture is the best thing about the Vampire Weekend album. Yeah, I know, I'm in the minority on this one, but I just don't like this band. I get the appeal, but that doesn't mean I have to like the sound.

Posted by Dan | July 16, 2010 9:01 AM

The lesson is: never hire Tod for your album cover. Your better off with Skippy or Trigger.

Posted by Anonymous | July 16, 2010 9:03 AM

I'm sure those trust fund kids can afford a measly 2 mil...

Posted by Anonymous | July 16, 2010 9:07 AM

What ever happened to the Trustfundia gengre tag anyway? Did it just engulf the entire indie scene and take its name in the process?

Posted by Anonymous | July 16, 2010 9:11 AM

i hate vampire weekend, but god i love bv

Posted by Anonymous | July 16, 2010 9:13 AM

go away!

Posted by Anonymous | July 16, 2010 9:18 AM

Is Ralph Lauren going to get in on any of this action for the shirt in photo?

Posted by Anonymous | July 16, 2010 9:26 AM

Amen, Brother 9:13.

Posted by Anonymous | July 16, 2010 9:29 AM

Just when you thought the music criticism on here was bad. This is investigative journalism at it's worst or should i say lamest. Rest assured BV writers, The Smoking Gun is not at all threatened.

Posted by Anonymous | July 16, 2010 9:36 AM

Their parents and/or record label will pay for this

Posted by Anonymous | July 16, 2010 9:36 AM

9:36 = Anonymous commenting at "it's" lamest

Posted by Anonymous | July 16, 2010 9:45 AM

I wish I had a valid reason to sue Vampire Weekend.

Posted by Anonymous | July 16, 2010 9:55 AM

Can I sue Vampire Weekend for the 10 dollars I spent on their shitty record? Now that would be a real lawsuit!

Posted by AWOL | July 16, 2010 10:03 AM

@9:36

investigative journalism?
you're right...this isn't the smoking gun.
and it's not trying to be.
if you want that, goto that site.
this is a goddamn music blog.

chill and shut your trap.

k. thanx. bye.

Posted by Anonymous | July 16, 2010 10:06 AM

Funny that their manager is also an attorney and he didn't catch the fact that her name is spelled 2 different ways on the contract. That should been his 1st clue something was just not right...duh!

Posted by Anonymous | July 16, 2010 10:56 AM

HA-HA - the banner ad at the bottom was for slip & fall attorneys...

Posted by Anonymous | July 16, 2010 11:13 AM

The band did its due diligence. After finding the photographer, who gave the band permission to use the image, is Vampire Weekend's management supposed to investigate to find out if he REALLY took the picture? That's excessive. She may have a case against the photographer, who might have been dishonest. Contracts between models, photographers, and publishers were not strict, even in the 1980s. But in a photograph, the subject of the image has little if no rights to the copyright in the image. If someone takes a picture of a person, or group of people, at a Williamsburg Waterfront concert and gave permission for a band to use it on an album cover, the people in the photographs would have no rights in that image. Further, and returning back to the Contra cover, a right of publicity claim for essentially an anonymous model is fragile and slim--she's no Cindy Crawford.

I'm not an attorney, but I do know quite a bit about US copyright law as it applies to visual art and images.

Posted by Regular reader | July 16, 2010 11:20 AM

we're all very proud of you

Posted by Anonymous | July 16, 2010 11:34 AM

today's bv post is brought to you in part by Google - search. a lot.

Posted by Anonymous | July 16, 2010 11:35 AM

So, that's why Vampire Weekend is so successful?! It all makes sense now!

Posted by Anonymous | July 16, 2010 11:46 AM

ABOLISH INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY

Posted by Anonymous | July 16, 2010 12:01 PM

"I'm not an attorney, but I do know quite a bit about US copyright law as it applies to visual art and images."

And I'm not a doctor but I play one on TV. Stick out your tongue and say, "Meh".

Posted by Anonymous | July 16, 2010 12:22 PM

Intellectual property is a lot like Terminal 5. Many people on this board don't understand either.

Posted by Anonymous | July 16, 2010 12:23 PM

"Meh."

I'm not an English professor, but I know how to write.

Posted by Regular reader | July 16, 2010 1:12 PM

Pictures of crowds at williamsburg waterfront could be sold editorially without model release, but commercially on the cover of an album. No. You'd need the release. Trust me.

Posted by Anonymous | July 16, 2010 1:22 PM

old broad

Posted by Anonymous | July 16, 2010 1:59 PM

2 million? a drop in the hat to these dudes.

Posted by Anonymous | July 16, 2010 3:21 PM

What a C word

Posted by No name | July 16, 2010 3:29 PM

sherlock vegan!!!!!

Posted by Anonymous | July 16, 2010 3:56 PM

Is this some Iran Contra hidden details?
These are the upper west side files?

Posted by Anonymous | July 16, 2010 6:23 PM

this is good stuff. keep it up BV!

Posted by Anonymous | July 16, 2010 6:38 PM

why pay 5000 for this picture when you could have just done it yourself?

Posted by Anonymous | July 16, 2010 9:29 PM

I just thought this was just some random hipster chick that was friends with the band

Posted by Anonymous | July 16, 2010 9:45 PM

I would think that vampire weekend isn't liable, but the "phony photographer" is.

Posted by Anonymous | July 17, 2010 12:27 AM

seriously, couldn't these ivy league kids find a friend who took an off guard picture of some broad to put on their album? i mean...5k for this? 5k???!!! feed the poor instead of supporting some douche photographer.

Posted by Anonymous | July 17, 2010 3:05 PM

And all of this time I thought that was just Christie Brinkley's head fused on some prepubescent girl's body.

Posted by Mel | July 18, 2010 12:24 AM

Do people really think 2 MILLION DOLLARS is a "drop in the hat" to any indie band - even one with alleged "trust funds"?

Posted by Anonymous | July 19, 2010 10:42 AM

I don't have exact numbers on Vampire Weekend's "fee" to play shows, but I can tell you it's more than $200,000 per show for festival and corporate appearances.

They are not poor.

Posted by Anonymous | July 19, 2010 10:56 AM

No, you're right - the dozen or so festival appearances they've probably done by now (which certainly all paid more than $200,000), split between them, their crew, the label, management, overhead, etc., is definitely enough to make $2M a "drop in the hat".
There is a pretty big difference between "not poor", and having a disposable $2M.

Posted by Anonymous | July 19, 2010 11:44 AM

80s Preppy Chic was shitty then and it's shitty now.

Posted by Anonymous | July 21, 2010 7:45 PM

And who is this girl anyways? The things people do for money! She must be extremely desperate.

Posted by Anonymous | July 21, 2010 8:12 PM

"What ever happened to the Trustfundia genre tag anyway? Did it just engulf the entire indie scene and take its name in the process?"
Yes after they were done with going to phish shows and eating goo balls before Moe played their second set.
Then they discovered My Morning Jacket and Vampire Weekend and now there are outdoor indie festivals with tons of boring bands to pick from.

Posted by Mike | July 22, 2010 11:12 AM

I was totally confused because I thought it was the girl "jen" from the new 90210 series... I looked both up and found that ; the girl from the series is named ,"Sara foster.. and she is beautiful... But this other chick looks just like her on what u would call "a bad hair day".... and u can't find any other picture of this "use to be model", or information on her.... WHY?????

Posted by anonymous | July 22, 2010 4:02 PM

Bwahahaha

Posted by Sylvia | August 12, 2010 6:52 AM

jesus, $5K FOR THAT??? it looks like it was taken on a fucking iphone.

Vampire MEHkend.

Posted by Anonymous | August 13, 2010 9:10 PM

you did find kennis's dog...Ann Kennis is my Aunt Ann.

Posted by anonymous | August 14, 2010 3:59 PM

If they really wanted the cover photo to help sell albums... Then they should have hired a photographer to take some snap shots of a decorated hummus platter. That would FLY off the shelves!!!

Posted by Anonymous | August 14, 2010 6:26 PM

Excellent sleuthing and googling, my friend! Awesome story.

Posted by Michael Senchuk | August 16, 2010 3:35 PM

That release form sounds phonier than a $3 bill. Sounds like she has an excellent case. I'd bet that Tod Brody's lawyer will go for a settlement.

Posted by Jethro | August 26, 2010 12:07 AM

Someone on here wrote...

"But in a photograph, the subject of the image has little if no rights to the copyright in the image. If someone takes a picture of a person, or group of people, at a Williamsburg Waterfront concert and gave permission for a band to use it on an album cover, the people in the photographs would have no rights in that image."

That's not accurate, however. You can take the photo, upload the photo, even sell the photo. But any image of a person used for "publicity" or to advertise, must get a release from any identifiable person in the photo.

As far as this case goes. I think whoever faked the signature is the one that should be help liable.... Cause really, a company does little to verify authenticity. companies receive photos from millions everyday (just throwing generic numbers there), they can't be expected to verify them all. Only if there is a dispute.

Posted by James | September 27, 2010 7:19 PM

Ann Kirsten Kennis is not a model now and the latest news regarding her is that she has come across a new case that has made her angry over a photographer.

Posted by Crystal | September 28, 2010 2:20 AM

I heard that Ann Kirsten Kennis was suing Vampire Weekend for using a 1983 photograph of her on the cover of their most recent album, Contra.

Posted by Garden | September 28, 2010 2:23 AM

According to Ann Kirsten Kennis' attorney Alan Neigher, the ex-model was surprised to see her face on the front cover of the said album when her teenage daughter brought home a copy.

Posted by Greeting Cards | September 28, 2010 2:28 AM

She thinks she deserves 2 million because her picture was obviously the reason the band's album was so successful??


Yeah the cover is good but I bought the album because I wanted to listen to it not because her face was on it.

xo

Posted by Stephh | October 5, 2010 11:44 PM

I bet she's the most boring woman on the planet.

Posted by Anonymous | December 1, 2010 9:14 PM

The lesson is: never hire Tod for your album cover Ann Kirsten Kennis is not a model now and the latest news regarding her is that she has come across a new case that has made her angry over a photographer.

Posted by كول | December 10, 2010 10:44 AM

gooood
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The lesson is: never hire Tod for your album cover Ann Kirsten Kennis is not a model now and the latest news regarding her is that she has come across a new case that has made her angry over a photographer.

Posted by دردشة روتانا | December 28, 2010 4:18 PM

why the fuck is she suing the band for the photographers fault?!
this chick needs to calm down! the reason she suddenly got famous was cuz of vampire weekend but before this she was a nobody. Ann Kirsten Kennis needs to calm the fuck down....

Posted by Jazmine | December 31, 2010 2:22 AM

Good for Pavement. Can't wait!

Posted by world stock exchange | May 22, 2011 2:32 AM

Hopefully by now this was resolved. Just wish people could talk one on one and not have to let things escalate.

Posted by Tim | November 20, 2011 4:58 PM

I hope Ann Kirsten Kennis was able to reach a settlement with VW that is fair. Based on all I have read about this situation, it appears Mr. Brody forged that release form in order to pocket an easy five grand. Ann had every right to sue for compensation. IMO

Posted by A. Thibeault | March 24, 2012 11:53 AM

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