Friday 6 July 2012

Jessie J, Kate Spade and the meaning of "inspiration"

 © Diegus Z
Two celebs are in a spot of copyright bother in the US this week, both being sued for good old fashioned copying. UK singer/songwriter Jessie J has been sued by US artist Will Loomis who claims that her hit song Domino infringes copyright in his 2008 track Bright Red Cords. Fashion designer Kate Spade has been sued by the estate of the late artist Vera Neumann for her poppy designs.

Mr Loomis, of Loomis and the Lusts, is looking for at least USD 1,500,000 in damages from Jessie J, Universal Music Group, Lava Records and Universal Republic Records (none of whom have commented) for the alleged infringement. To demonstrate the similarities between his song and Jessie J's, Loomis has created a video showing Domino and Bright Red Chords side by side. When this blogger when to check out the video, YouTube said "This video contains content from UMG who has blocked it on copyright grounds. Sorry about that". It is however still possible to listen to each of the songs separately (here and here) and whilst the lyrics are different the melody to the verses sounds, to this blogger at least, very similar.

Jessie J performed Domino at the Queen's Diamond Jubilee concert last month of which Mr Loomis said:  "When I wrote this melody in my garage I never imagined it would be sung for the King and Queen of England. I especially never imagined it would be sung by Jessie J." This blogger is not sure that it was performed for the King of England, however the claim still stands: Loomis has said that he never consented to use of his song. Perhaps Jessie J and her team were a little too inspired?

Also in the US, this time in the Southern District of New York, fashion designer Kate Spade has been sued by the estate of the late artist Vera Neumann for USD 1 million. If you not have heard of Vera Neumann before, the fact that Marilyn Monroe and Grace Kelly were fans of her signature scarves (allegedly first created because a linen supply shortage during World War II led her to instead use parachute silk) should give you an idea of her standing.

Neumann's estate alleges that Kate Spade's line of floral-print dresses and mobile phone cases are "obviously copied" from Vera's 1979 classic Poppy Field. It further claims that: "Kate Spade has indicated, at least several years ago, that among the items and products that have inspired her designs are the silk-screened scarves of Vera." Despite this assertion, it appears to this blogger's not particularly artistic eye that both Kate Spade and Vera Neumann were inspired by poppies, and no-one has a monopoly over the poppy.

It's ok to be inspired but the allegations against Jessie J and Kate Spade go further than that. Inspiration or copying - what do you think?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The Vera Neumann lawsuit against Kate Spade seems iffy at best. How is it that Vera Neumann owns red poppies now? (The image you have isn't the Vera image in question.)

The Kate and Vera images of poppies aren't even that similar. The leaves are different, the shapes are different. I guess royalties have dried up in the Vera Neumann estate.