Rihanna's video to her number one single 'S&M', which has been watched by nearly 49 million people on YouTube, could be banned after a German photographer claims she copied his work.
New-York based Philipp Paulus, 22, from Germany, claims some scenes in the pop star's bondage-themed video were based on his fashion photography series "Paperworld".
Paulus' work included a woman in a red dress held against a wall in plastic wrapping with black tape X-marks.
Rihanna's video, produced by her record label Universal Music, features the U.S popstar in a similar setup with plastic wrapping and crosses.
'It is shocking that a company like Universal music, which generates its turnover with intellectual property, copies the intellectual property completely unauthorised and without respect,' said Paulus, who is fighting his case in a court in Stuttgart, Germany.
Paulus' lawyer, copyright specialist Philip Jakober, said Universal Music Group had admitted the similarities some time ago but had not made a reasonable offer to settle the matter, prompting the legal case.
He said: 'Certain video scenes of the music video 'S&M' are essentially the basics of the copyright protected achievements and creations of my client.'
In 2011 Paulus began legal action over the issue, shortly after another photographer accused Universal and Rihanna of stealing his ideas for the S&M video.
Well-kown American photographer David LaChapelle argued in documents filed in Manhattan Federal Court in New York City that certain scenes in the 'S&M' video were 'directly derived from and substantially similar' to eight of his photographs.
After failing to come to an out of court settlement with the music giants, Paulus has now filed claims for an injunction as well as a claim for damages.
If Paulus wins his case, Universal Music could face, among other things, a ban on broadcasting the video not only on YouTube but also on television worldwide.
'The ludicrous thing about this situation is that Universal Music has for some time been bringing about a wave of lawsuits against end users for copyright infringements, yet as far as our case is concerned the usage from the photo series 'Paperworld' by Philipp Paulus in the music video 'S&M' is a serious and worldwide infringement of copyright, which is the responsibility of Universal Music,' added lawyer Jakober.
Paulus' legal costs for the trial in Stuttgart are being funded by Foris Legal Financing from Bonn, which enables him to fight the music giant.
Paulus said: 'Of course as a young artist I am not prepared to use my whole start-up capital to fight against the cold shoulder of a big player like Universal Music. I am really happy that after the out-of-court settlement fell through almost two years ago I am now being given the opportunity to work with Foris and my lawyers to fight for my rights.'
Lawyer Jakober added: 'Universal music exploited the economic inferiority of my client in the out of court settlement talks. After Foris joined the case as the financer, those strategies will no longer work.'
In an earlier interview Paulus said he was amazed that Rihanna did not express more originality in her work.
'Why a worldwide celebrity is not able to afford a creative director, who creates individual concepts and staging, is incomprehensible to me,' he said.
Paulus added: 'While I really respect Rihanna's talents as a musician, nevertheless it is important to respect the creations of others, even young talent - and not to copy their work without legitimacy for earning money with it in order to make money.'
The case continues.