Fair Use Debate Pits Street Artist Against Rock Band




Los Angeles, CA (Law Firm Newswire) October 14, 2011 – Concert backdrops are a big, expensive element to a musician or band’s live concert. Backdrops set the mood of the concert and can be ingrained in the concertgoer’s memory as a big part of the night. From trick lighting elements to fire and pyrotechnics, graphics and props, concert backdrops are a big business.

Anthony Spotora

Anthony Spotora

“When musicians enlist the works of others to showcase art, graphics, or videos they must sign appropriate agreements so that copyright laws are upheld,” said Los Angeles copyright attorney Anthony Spotora, of Spotora & Associates, P.C.

A recent court case pitted an artist against the rock band Green Day. In Derek Seltzer v. Green Day, Inc., the artist Derek Seltzer felt that Green Day used his art “Scream Icon” for their concert backdrop without permission.

“Scream Icon” shows a face in a state of angst, screaming and bewildered in the moment. Seltzer had made it as a piece of street art and tagged it on a wall on Sunset Boulevard. Green Day wanted to create some video backdrops for its tour to debut the album “21st Century Breakdown”. The band hired photographer Richard Staub who took a photo of “Scream Icon”, which was actually partially covered by graffiti. Staub claimed he was inspired by it for Green Day’s song “East Jesus Nowhere” regarding the contradictions in religions. For their backdrop he added bricks to the background, put a spray-painted red cross on the front, and modified the colors and contrast.

The federal judge said that Staub and Green Day’s backdrop was within fair use according to copyright law as the backdrop had transformed the original art enough. It did not infringe Seltzer’s copyright as it was distinct enough from the original work and did not hurt its market potential. Green Day had only used the transformed piece as a backdrop and not in any other promotional material.

“Fair use cases are very complex and legal representation is a must to make your case strong,” said Spotora.

The Law Offices of Spotora & Associates, P.C. has some of the top Los Angeles intellectual property lawyers and Los Angeles copyright lawyers. For decades, they have been the go-to law firm for individuals and corporate clients to research, acquire, and protect coveted intellectual property. To learn more about the Los Angeles entertainment lawyer, visit http://www.spotoralaw.com/.

Law Offices of Spotora & Associates, P.C.
1801 Century Park East, 24th Floor
Los Angeles, California 90067-2302
Call: (310) 556.9641

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