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Photographer sues Guns N’ Roses for copyright infringement, accuses manager of sexual harassment

Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Power Trip

Guns N’ Roses are embroiled in a lawsuit filed by a photographer who worked for them for over a decade.

According to Rolling Stone, Katarina Benzova filed a lawsuit accusing the band of copyright infringement, alleging their management company “falsely claim[ed] ownership” over her photographs. She also accused the band’s manager, Fernando Lebeis, of sexual harassment.

But weeks prior to Benzova’s suit, Guns N’ Roses sued her, arguing she “improperly registered” for a copyright for the photos of the band, which they say they own.

"Ms. Benzova was initially contracted to provide tour photography services for Guns N’ Roses in 2010. She worked with the band for 12 years and was paid and treated extraordinarily well. It was only after her services were discontinued in 2022 that she attempted to claim ownership in photos which her contract clearly states are owned by the band," Guns N' Roses shared in a statement to ABC Audio. "The band takes these types of claims very seriously however all evidence establishes these accusations are categorically and unequivocally false. This response from her comes after the band initiated suit against Ms. Benzova for falsely asserting ownership in the photos of the band."

But Benzova argues in her suit that she was just a freelancer and worked without a formal contract throughout her 12 years with the band, with the exception of an 18-week period. She says GNR’s management is falsely claiming to own the photos from the non-contracted period and has been using them without consent in ads, various media outlets and more.

Her suit requests a court order that names her the “sole owner” of any photos taken during that contracted period.

As for the sexual harassment, she says it began in 2016 and got so bad she went out of her way to never be alone with Lebeis. She says after rejecting him, Lebeis retaliated by lowering her pay, withholding money and withholding photo credits.

(A previous version of this story published on November 14 did not contain the full statement from Guns N’ Roses. The text above has been updated to correct the error.)

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