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Graffiti Artist Slams Kiesza Over Music Video

BROOKLYN, N.Y. (CN) - To feign street cred for her breakout video "Hideway," singer Kiesza wriggled her hips against a backdrop of misappropriated graffiti, an artist says in a federal complaint.

Jamie Mitchel Kosse filed the suit Tuesday against Kiesza, whose real name is Kiesa Rae Ellestad, and her label, Universal Music Group.

At issue is the 2014 MTV Award-nominated video that helped launch Kiesza's "Sound of a Woman" album. Clad in mom jeans, high-tops and suspenders seemingly liberated from a John Hughes set, the petite redhead prances and dances her way in the video around a city block of the hipster mecca that is Williamsburg.

Kosse says it is his street art decorating the walls in the background, but Kiesza opted not to follow in the steps of others that have licensed his work, including NBC, CBS, Paramount Pictures and Universal Studios, for such programs as "The Dictator" and "A Gifted Man."

The result "creates the false impression that plaintiff endorses Kiesza, which he does not, and that he authorized the usage of his highly distinctive works to promote the launch of Kiesza's career," according to the complaint.

Kosse says the use of his works as a backdrop "appears to have been intentional because they are emblematic of the urban gritty cool image that Kiesza projects in the 'Hideaway' video and in her subsequent music videos.'"

Perhaps the most "famous" of Kosse's works, according to the seven-page lawsuit, is a block-long mural of five pieces, collectively known as "Frogs, Elephant, Alphabet Demons, Adam and Graffiti HEFS," which he created on a building with the property manager's permission.

With 266 million hits on YouTube, Kiesza's video won the 2014 Juno Award for Video of the Year and was nominated for best choreography at the MTV Video Music Awards.

Kosse's attorneys say they got no answer after twice beseeching Kiesza to stop using their client's work in promotional materials without permission.

The complaint seeks damages for copyright infringement and false endorsement. Kosse is represented by Katherine Daniels with Bahnmulter LLP in Manhattan.

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