'Chris Brown lifted my artwork and didn't even credit me'


A still from Don Mupasi's video, and Chris Brown on stage, side-by-side

Image copyright
Don Mupasi/Getty Images

Don Mupasi’s 130,000 followers on Instagram have helped him turn his hobby – visual art – into something he can make money from.

“It’s basically a full time job at this moment,” the 25-year-old tells Radio 1 Newsbeat.

But 130,000 followers isn’t quite the same as 58 million.

So when Don got a message about Chris Brown’s Instagram account reposting one of his videos – with no mention of where the video came from – it was a bittersweet feeling.

“In some weird way it does mean my work is actually pretty decent if people are willing to just grab it like that.

“But at the same time it’s not a huge benefit to me if somebody like that takes my work and doesn’t credit me.”

Don created the image in question in collaboration with a friend who writes music and – like the rest of his work – it’s available to download for free from his website, provided credit is given.

“I want people to know it’s me who created it. I think that’s fair,” Don says.

“When he posted it with some hip-hop song over it, it’s really not the kind of vibe I wanted for that piece of work. But he just put some weird hip-hop song on it and then made some caption which doesn’t really make any sense.

“But if he had tagged me and just gave credit I would have been cool with that, and that would have brought a lot more eyes to my actual work.”

Image copyright
Don Mupasi

Image caption

Don is commissioned to create his pretty unique visual style for clients, and sells to stock footage websites

When he was made aware of it by one of his followers, Don said he immediately messaged Chris Brown, although he wasn’t expecting a reply.

The Manchester-based artist also says he contacted the singer’s management.

“The only thing I thought I could do after that is just post about it on my social accounts,” he says.

Don’s post on Reddit showing the two videos next to each other got upvoted – a way that other users show their support – nearly 80,000 times, which he says he “wasn’t really expecting”.

“I just wanted to bring some attention to it. I don’t expect I’ll really get anything else from it, like money-wise,” he says.

This isn’t the first time something like this has happened to Don. A few years ago, another artist put his work at the start of a music video on YouTube that gained more than 2 million views in the year it was up before Don saw it and reached out.

After weeks of back-and-forth and “non-responses” the record label offered Don $250 (£190).

“I thought that was kind of laughable at the time because at the very least, if you’re going to compensate me, I thought maybe they would pay the rate I would normally charge for a project like that.

“It would have been at least about four or five times more.”

This was before Don offered his work online for free, so the video had been ripped from his YouTube page and uploaded illegally, infringing his copyright.

“In the end I was just happy for them to take it down – and they actually did eventually – so they admitted they were in the wrong there.”

‘They know it’s not something they created’

Being a visual artist who works predominantly on online, Don says you almost have to expect that people will use your work now.

“Once you post something and it’s out on Instagram or YouTube, it’s very easy to just snag it from there. And I know other artists who’ve had the same thing happen to them.”

Regardless of how Don’s artwork ended up being shared to Chris Brown’s Instagram page, he just wants artists to approach things honestly.

“When I post things and collaborate with other artists I’m really conscious of making sure I credit everybody. And I expect other artists to be similar. They know it’s not something they created.”

Radio 1 Newsbeat has contacted Chris Brown’s team for comment.

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