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Updated Feb 16, 2023, 2:00pm EST
mediaNorth America

Drake and 21 Savage settle Condé Nast lawsuit over fake Vogue cover

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The Scoop

Drake and 21 Savage have agreed to pay magazine publisher Condé Nast over a fake edition of Vogue the duo created and publicized last year.

In November, Vogue’s parent company filed a trademark infringement lawsuit seeking $4 million after the two rappers created a fake edition and cover of Vogue as part of the promotion for the duo’s collaborative album Her Loss.

In an internal memo first obtained by Semafor, Condé Nast general counsel Will Bowes told staff that the company this week had received a permanent injunction barring further commercial uses of Vogue trademarks. Thursday’s memo did not disclose the settlement amount, but said that the company was granted a monetary settlement that will “bolster our ongoing creative output, including Vogue editorial.”

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“As a creative company, we of course understand our brands may from time to time be referenced in other creative works,” Bowes said. “In this instance, however, it was clear to us that Drake and 21 Savage leveraged Vogue’s reputation for their own commercial purposes and, in the process, confused audiences who trust Vogue as the authoritative voice on fashion and culture.”

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Max’s view

Before taking legal action, Condé Nast repeatedly asked Drake and 21 Savage to stop using the fake cover and magazine, which featured Drake with a photoshopped image of a younger Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour. Bowes said the duo ignored the requests, leaving the company with “no other option but to take legal action.”

A court initially sided with the magazine publisher, ordering Drake and 21 Savage to stop distributing the magazine, saying they were “confusing customers about the origin, sponsorship, or approval” of the cover and “misleading consumers to believe that these are genuine and authentic materials.”

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The duo’s self-made Vogue cover was part of a promotional campaign last year built around a fake press tour. As part of the promotional campaign, they shot phony interviews on the Howard Stern radio show, a fake Saturday Night Live appearance, and a fake NPR Tiny Desk concert. A source close to Drake initially told the tabloid TMZ that the pop star was “both surprised and confused” about Condé‘s frustration because other publications that were spoofed seemed to go along with the promotion.

But despite the declining interest in physical magazines, the Vogue cover is still a coveted and prestigious space that is closely protected by the company. Who is on the cover or not is occasionally the subject of controversy: Melania Trump famously complained after Wintour refused to put her on the magazine’s cover despite a long history of prominently featuring first ladies.

And Vogue covers can still make headlines themselves: This week, Rihanna, the rapper A$AP Rocky, and their baby’s appearance on the cover of British Vogue following the pop star’s Super Bowl performance created an entire tabloid news cycle.

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