07/25/2011 05:36 pm ET | Updated Sep 24, 2011

Rihanna 'S&M' Lawsuit Moves Forward; David LaChapelle's Claims Found Substantial

Teeming with gag-balls, whips and a lot of leather, Rihanna's video, 'S&M,' was bound to get our attention.

But perhaps not this much. When the salacious video was released, it received immediate backlash--some because of its controversial subject and others because of its artistic vision and execution.

Photographer David LaChapelle, whose work has appeared in various fashion and music magazines, sued the R&B star this February for allegedly copying his work in her video. LaChappelle said that this infraction occurred eight times throughout the course of the video.

Despite their similarities, pinning copy right infringement to the somewhat ineffable qualities of "composition, total concept, feel, tone, mood, theme, colors, props, settings, decors, wardrobe and lighting" of the video is no easy case.

Lucky for LaChapelle, he's now made it past the first round of legal bureaucracy. New York Judge Shira Scheindlin finds the photographer's claims sufficient to support the charge. Interestingly enough, the concrete similarities such as the use of leashed men, gag-balls and leather--the real meat and potatoes of the video--are not a basis for infringement.

Rather, it is the video's use of "angles, poses and lighting" that's protected under copyright, according to the judge.

The similarities between Rihanna's 'S&M' and LaChapelle's photographs no coincidence, he says. The video's storyboards actually used his photographs for inspiration.

Now, it's up to the judge to determine if the photographs and the videos are similar.