The New Stuff


Design Copyright Infringement: Five of the most famous cases

miles davis lawsuit copyright

Baio, a web developer, paid photographer Jay Maisel more than $32,000 settlement over a copyright infringement claim. The case stems over the cover art for the album Kind of Bloop, a chiptune remake of the Miles Davis classic, Kind of Blue. 

Yes, you got that right. 32k for this.

Baio claims that by using NES-style pixel art to capture the artistic essence of the original album cover with “a fraction of the resolution and color depth of an analog photograph” he transformed it. Here’s how Judge Batts would respond “If an infringement of copyrightable expression could be justified as fair use solely on the basis of the infringer’s claim to a higher or different artistic use . . . there would be no practicable boundary to the fair use defense.”

Obama Associated Press Lawsuit
Famous street artist Shephard Fairey created the Hope poster during President Obama’s first run for presidential election in 2008. The design rapidly became a symbol for Obama’s campaign. In January 2009, the photograph on which Fairey allegedly based the design was revealed by the Associated Press as one shot by AP freelancer Mannie Garcia — with the AP demanding compensation for its use in Fairey’s work. Fairey responded with the defense of fair use, claiming his work didn’t reduce the value of the original photograph.
The artist and the AP press came to a private settlement in January 2011, part of which included a split in the profits for the work.

It’s unlikely that Garcia’s work could have ever reached the level of fame it did, if not for Fairey’s poster. Garcia himself stated he was “so proud of the photograph and that Fairey did what he did artistically with it, and the effect it has had,” but still had a problem with the fact that Fairey took the image without permission and without credit for it’s originator.

via 99Design


Dido lawsuit case astronaut

The cover of Dido’s album Safe Trip Home shows McCandless , the first astronaut to make an untied or untethered ‘free flight’ in space, ‘free flying’ in space, around 320 meters away from the cargo bay of the space shuttle Challenger.

In a complaint filed on September 30 in Los Angeles‘ federal court, McCandless said that he never gave permission for Dido to use the 1984 photograph of him. Along with Dido,McCandless named Sony Music Entertainment and Getty Images Inc in the lawsuit. He is seeking unspecified damages, citing that the use of the image is an infringement of his persona.


roger dean avatar cameron lawsuit

Roger Dean, album designer best known for designing album covers and artwork for the band Yes, filed a lawsuit against James Cameron and the motion picture Avatar for the stark similarity between Dean’s work and the depiction of the planet Pandora in Avatar.

Immediately upon the release of Avatar, numerous commentators noticed the similarity. It was so obvious that Cameron was directly asked about it in an interview with Entertainment Weekly.

“Where did Cameron get the idea for the floating mountains? Was that from a Yesalbum cover?
‘It might have been,’ the director says with a laugh. ‘Back in my pot-smoking days.’”

But on Wednesday, U.S. District Court Judge Jesse M. Furman dismissed the suit, which was being heard in New York. Furman called several of Dean’s claims “misguided,” noting that as evidence, the artist included images from “books about or derived from Avatar” rather than the film. The judge also noted that images from the film were cropped, rotated and otherwise taken “out of context” in an attempt to make them look similar to Dean’s paintings, which were in turn also manipulated by the artist.




The original cover of Sufjan Stevens’ 2005 album Illinois featured an image of Superman flying over Chicago, due to the fact that the city of Metropolis from the Superman comics was based on Chicago. However, the cover had to be redesigned soon after the album’s release due to the threat of a lawsuit from DC Comics. The Superman image was replaced by an image of three floating balloons.



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