Tuesday, 9 July 2013

"Is this real life? Is this just fantasy?" Mercury estate takes down gorilla

 The BBC has reported on the sad spat between the estate of Freddie Mercury (left) and the organisers of the Go Go Gorilla charity initiative over an alleged infringement of copyright in the distinctive yellow and white suit worn by the late rock star. According to the estate, the spraying one of 53 Go Go Gorillas (right) with a "cover version" of the suit constituted a copyright infringement.  The offending gorilla has since been taken off public display from its plinth in the city of Norwich and resprayed. Local Norfolk artist Mik Richardson, who sprayed the gorilla in question, was most disappointed. According to the BBC report:
"The decision to order its removal was "absolutely shocking". He said: "It's dreadful. It's petty, really. The night I was told I couldn't sleep." Mr Richardson was paid £800 to design and paint the gorilla. "I'm a mural artist and I have to be very careful about copyright," he said. "I didn't copy the suit exactly. I alter enough so that it's fan art, rather than a copy of it.
The United Kingdom does not recognise a defence of "this is an inexact copy for the sake of fan art"; nor has it adopted the notion that the creation of a piece of transformative might be regarded as fair dealing.  However, this blogger wonders what a court might have done with an infringement claim, had a case ever come to trial.  Would injunctive relief or delivery up, for destruction or otherwise, be ordered?  And on what basis would damages be assessed? To put it in a nutshell, if Go Go Gorilla had not withdrawn and resprayed the offending beast, would it have been worthwhile going to court to do anything about it?

The ideal solution would have been for Freddie Mercury's estate to buy the gorilla by making a charity donation, which would have saved a lot of bad publicity and purchased some goodwill into the bargain.

1 comment:

matthewrippon said...

I wonder what was the basis upon which it was alleged that copyright subsisted in Freddie's costume. I think this is where I would have started the defence to these ridiculous threats!