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Guns N' RosesKatarina Benzova

Guns N’ Roses Face New Copyright Infringement Lawsuit, Manager Hit With Sexual Harassment Allegations By The Band’s Ex-Photographer


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Guns N’ Roses are facing a new copyright infringement lawsuit filed by a photographer/videographer formerly employed by the hard rock juggernauts. Additionally that suit, which was recently filed by photographer Katarina Benzova, alleges claims of sexual harassment against the band’s manager Fernando Lebeis, who Benzova alleges made numerous unwanted sexual advances toward her during a period of several years.

The suit in question is a countersuit to a complaint filed against Benzova by the band themselves. Guns N’ Roses took legal action against the photographer several weeks ago after she attempted to claim ownership of numerous photos she took of the band amid her 12-year run working with them. The band disputed her claims, stating in their suit that she has “no ownership interest in the copyright to the subject photographs and videos.”

Rolling Stone report that this new countersuit finds Benzova disputing the band’s ownership claims, as she cites a lengthy ‘uncontracted period’ of time during her run with the band. Benzova claims that she largely worked as a freelancer for the group and only had a formal contract with the band for roughly 18 weeks. According to Benzova, she shot the band during roughly 364 shows from 2010 to 2022.

Benzova claims that the photos and footage taken during this uncontracted period were reproduced and commercialized by the band, with at least 145 of her works used without her authorization or consent. She further claims that a number of these works were then used by media outlets, in ad campaigns, exhibits, CDs and more. She is seeking to be declared the ‘sole owner’ of these photographs, due to her not having a formal contract in place during the timeframe they were taken.

Benzova alleges in the suit that the band and their management repeatedly “infringed” upon her copyrights, alleging that the band’s manager Fernando Lebeis at one point told her, “she didn’t need credit because everyone already knew that she was the photographer of Guns N’ Roses.”

Benzova alleges that her numerous complaints about credit for her works over the years were often brushed off by Lebeis, and that he would attempt to “gaslight” and “psychologically manipulate” her over ownership of the photographs.

As for the claims of sexual harassment lodged against Lebeis, Benzova cited numerous instances in which she claims Lebeis repeatedly made unwanted sexual advances towards her. Those incidents allegedly began in 2016, when he first  attempted to “force her to kiss him.”

She also claims Lebeis told her “he loved her on more than 500 instances” and sent numerous graphic and lewd messages, including images and a video suggesting or depicting sexually graphic behavior. She also claims an incident in 2018 served as the final straw for her, in which Lebeis allegedly attempted to pressure her into having sex with him, while physically touching her and “trying to force himself” onto her.

She claims that her constant rejections saw Lebeis react by withholding compensation, booking her in cheaper hotels, having her pay for flights she alleges were originally set to be paid for by the band’s management team, and also intentionally withholding photo credits.

Guns N’ Roses‘ camp issued the following statement to Rolling Stone in response to this countersuit:

“Ms. Benzova was initially contracted to provide tour photography services for Guns N’ Roses in 2010. She worked with the band for 12 years and was paid and treated extraordinarily well. It was only after her services were discontinued in 2022 that she attempted to claim ownership in photos, which her contract clearly states are owned by the band. The band takes these types of claims very seriously, however, all evidence establishes these accusations are categorically and unequivocally false. This response from her comes after the band initiated suit against Ms. Benzova for falsely asserting ownership in the photos of the band.”

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