If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, does that mean getting sued for looking too much like a worldwide superstar is a backhanded compliment?
Well, maybe – if you look a lot like Tina Turner.
The 81-year-old pop star is suing German firm COFO Entertainment, which produces the musical tribute show ‘Simply the Best – The Tina Turner Story’, starring her doppelganger, Dorothea "Coco" Fletcher.
Coco, with her lion-mane style hairdo, who is about 50 years younger than Tina, looks too much like the OG, for Ms Turner's liking.
“What Miss Turner dislikes about the whole affair is that she would like to be master of her own right of self-determination,” Kerstin Schmitt, Turner’s lawyer, told the court. “She wants to decide herself when her name and her image can be used for marketing purposes.”
The artist’s lawyers have argued that because Coco looks so much like Tina, showgoers could be misled into thinking it actually is her in the show, and promotional posters for the unauthorised tribute show should be withdrawn.
COFO also stage tribute performances dedicated to Elvis Presley, The Beatles, and Frank Sinatra, and the Tina Turner show has been touring Germany, Austria and Switzerland for several years.
"Tina Turner's performances differ considerably from those of other artists. I have always been fascinated by her incredible energy and stage presence," Coco once said of the rock diva.
The poster advertising Simply the Best was initially given a re-design and the case has now gone to the German Federal Court of Justice where a judge will decide between the right to one's own image and the freedom to be creative.
The Times reports that the lookalike musician scene is a multi-million Euro industry, with fans flocking to see their favourite artists imitated on stage.
The outcome from the What’s Love Got To Do With It singer’s case may have serious implications on the industry, where German courts recognise the ‘right of personality'.
“In asking ‘what’s law got to do with it’, Tina Turner is hoping to use European right of personality laws to determine how her image is used in public," says UK lawyer Howard Ricklow.
"Whilst it is ‘simply the best’ for music fans to see the original artist, it’s not always possible to artists and fans to ‘stay together’."
Only a 'chronically stupid person who looks at everything superficially' would get the two confused, argued the Cofo's lawyer, Brunhilde Ackermann.
The final verdict is expected to be delivered by a Bavarian court in February, however Miss Tina isn’t the first to go to court over tribute matters:
- Bon Jovi made headlines in 2009 when they took ‘Blonde Jovi’, an all-female act who were infringing on the band’s trademark rights.
- In 2010 Universal Music in Sweden had their lawyers send letters to 15 Abba tribute acts including Abba Queens, Abba Mania and Swede Dreamz Abba Tribute demanding they stop trading off the name ‘Abba’. “We’ve had complaints from all over the world where fans feel they’ve been misled and we feel it’s our duty to protect the Abba brand from misuse,” a spokesperson for Universal Music said.
- John Lennon’s widow, Yoko Ono (88) won a case in 2017, forcing the owner of bars Yoko Mono and John Lemon in Hamburg Germany, to rename them.
SOURCES: THETIMES.CO.UK; DAILYMAIL.CO.UK; TINA-TURNER-STORY.COM; MUSICTHINKTANK.COM; COLLYERBRISTOW.COM