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Vogue sues Drake, 21 Savage over fake magazines they made to plug new album ‘Her Loss’

 A diptych of Drake and  21 Savage
Drake, left, attends the world premiere of “Amsterdam” at Alice Tully Hall on Sunday, Sept. 18, 2022, in New York. 21 Savage attends the Tom Ford show during NYFW Fall/Winter in Los Angeles on Feb. 7, 2020.
(Associated Press)
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Don’t tell me that you model if you ain’t been ... sued by Vogue.

Vogue magazine is suing Drake and 21 Savage over their use of the magazine’s trademark and its clout to plug their just-released joint album, “Her Loss.”

The trademark infringement lawsuit, filed Monday by Vogue owner Condé Nast in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, alleges that the hip-hop stars used unauthorized cover images, full mock-ups of the mag and the endorsement of editor-in-chief Anna Wintour last week to promote the record.

Advance Magazine Publishers Inc., Condé Nast‘s parent company, said that the hip-hop stars and communications firm Hiltzik Strategies falsely promoted the fake Vogue collaboration and wants an injunction on their use of the Vogue mark immediately, as well as the destruction of any physical copies of the counterfeit mag.

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The publisher also seeks at least $4 million in statutory damages and triple the rappers’ profits from the sales of “Her Loss” and the counterfeit magazine, or triple their awarded damages, whichever is greater, according to a copy of the complaint obtained Tuesday by The Times.

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“Vogue magazine and its Editor-in-Chief Anna Wintour have had no involvement in ‘Her Loss’ or its promotion, and have not endorsed it in any way,” the complaint said. “Nor did Condé Nast authorize, much less support, the creation and widespread dissemination of a counterfeit issue of Vogue, or a counterfeit version of perhaps one of the most carefully curated covers in all of the publication business in service of promoting Defendants’ new album.”

Mimicking a typical Vogue cover reveal, Drake and 21 Savage pushed their mock-ups of the mag by posting images of the fake cover in an Oct. 30 Instagram post that had the caption “Me and my brother on newsstands tomorrow!” The caption also suggested that Wintour gave them her coveted stamp of approval by thanking the editor for her “love and support on this historic moment.”

The mock-ups featured both Drake and 21 Savage — real names Aubrey Drake Graham and Shéyaa Bin Abraham-Joseph, respectively — as cover stars, which led fans and news outlets to believe that Vogue would drop a special edition of the glossy magazine, the lawsuit said. Street teams also handed out copies and plastered the images of the mocked-up mag in cities across the United States.

The lawsuit said that the “Circo Loco” rappers professionally reprinted a full issue of Vogue with the fake cover, and “[t]o enhance the appearance of authenticity, the rollout of this false campaign deliberately mimicked the promotional activities undertaken and encouraged by Condé Nast in advance of the release of each issue of Vogue.”

The physical issue was relatively unchanged inside, but the publisher said that constitutes “an exact reproduction of Condé Nast’s copyrightable content.” Some pages had the album title tagged across them, and Drake was superimposed on an image of Wintour in another.

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“The confusion among the public is unmistakable,” the lawsuit said. “Immediately following Defendants’ deceptive social media posts, numerous media outlets published stories with titles like ‘Drake & 21 Savage Land Vogue Cover Ahead Of Collab Album “Her Loss,”’ ‘Drake and 21 Savage are Vogue’s new cover stars,’ and ‘Drake & 21 Savage Make History On The Cover Of Vogue.’

“The reporting in these articles underscores the confusion caused by Defendants’ deceptive campaign... [and] User comments on the Internet also reflect this confusion, and the widespread belief that the counterfeit issue and counterfeit cover disseminated by Defendants were real,” the lawsuit said.

Representatives for Drake and 21 Savage declined to comment Tuesday and representatives for Hiltzik Strategies did not immediately respond to The Times’ request for comment. Condé Nast declined to comment further when reached by The Times.

Upon releasing “Her Loss,” the rappers staged a number of parodies, including a deepfake “Howard Stern Show” interview (that Stern found amusing), teasing an NPR Tiny Desk concert spot that NPR had to debunk but said it was “open to the possibility,” as well as a manufactured “Saturday Night Live” musical guest performance.

But Vogue did not take their spoofs so lightly.

“In the days before the album release, Vogue’s parent company, Condé Nast, asked the duo to take ‘remedial measures to curtail further public confusion,’ but those requests were refused,” the complaint said, accusing the rappers of trademark infringement, brand dilution and false advertising, among other claims.

Drake and 21 Savage have already bumped against several celebrities with their album collab, with fellow rapper Megan Thee Stallion accusing them of downplaying her getting shot on the track “Circo Loco.” The same track also features a line apparently about embattled rapper-designer Kanye West with Drake claiming that he only reconciled with Ye at the behest of rap mogul J Prince.

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And the duo’s song “Middle of the Ocean” elicited a response from Alexis Ohanian, the Reddit co-founder and husband of tennis star Serena Williams, after Drake called him “a groupie.”

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