Wednesday 10 July 2013

The CopyKat - a heady mix of gorillas, monsters, social media and books!

if you missed this in the UK, then I can inly presume you must have been in a deep underground pit for three days, but a gorilla sculpture, painted to resemble the Queen frontman Freddie Mercury, has been removed after a complaint from Queen's manager Jim Beach on behalf of the Freddie Mercury estate. The organisers of Go Go Gorillas, a public art trail in Norwich, were told that the painted suit "worn" by the gorilla "breached copyright". It asked for the Freddie "Radio Go Go" Gorilla sculpture, which Norfolk artist Mik Richardson took three days to create, to be removed from public view. Mr Richardson told the BBC the order its removal was "absolutely shocking". Mr Richardson was paid £800 to design and paint the gorilla and he explained "I'm a mural artist and I have to be very careful about copyright" adding "I didn't copy the suit exactly. I alter enough so that it's fan art, rather than a copy of it. The "Radio Go Go" gorilla is one of 53 life-size gorillas decorated by Norfolk artists and displayed on the streets of Norwich over the summer. An additional 67 baby gorillas, painted at local schools, made up the 120-strong public art trail. The Freddie Mercury gorilla sculpture will be repainted with a "new and exciting design" and should be back in place within 10 days.

A Kickstarter campaign to raise money for a sequel to Maurice Sendak’s “Where the Wild Things Are” has run into a problem after the estate of Maurice Sendak who write the original objected to the new project. The project, a poem entitled “Back to the Wild,” written by Geoffrey O. Todd with illustrations by Rich Berner, involves a sentimental journey for Max as he returns with his daughter, Sophie, to see the “Wild Things” 30 years later.

I have to be brief in this post, as I am off to the Exit  Festival in Novi Sad, Serbia, and and the parallel GO Group conference on green events: but this one caught my eye: after our previous reports about the impact of Russia's new copyright laws, it seems that  Russia's top social network "VKontakte" is in negotiations to find a way for its users to listen legally to the music from the world biggest record labels’ catalogues. CEO and founder of "VKontakte", Pavel Durov, told Vedomosti that the social network was together with Sony Music, Warner Music and Universal Music are looking for options to accommodate the music industry’s interests "without affecting the Russian internet users."

A new research paper by University of Illinois law professor and Bournemouth University scholar Paul J. Heald titled "How Copyright Makes Books and Music Disappear (and How Secondary Liability Rules Help Resurrect Old Songs)" seeks to explain why on Amazon there are three times more books available from the 1850s than from the 1950s - and the blame reportedly comes down to the copyright industries  - works in the public domain are more likely to stay in the marketplace than are works that are owned, or orphan works but in particular copyright owners with business priorities might not see sufficient value in a given copyright at a given moment. But if a work is available to all, it's far more likely that someone, or maybe lots of someones, someone will find it worthwhile, and potentially profitable, to publish it. As Heald points out, copyright owners spend a lot of time and money pushing policymakers for longer copyrights tend to provide the "incentive to create" - But it seems that Heald's study shows that the incentive to create requires a relatively short copyright life. Once the big money has been made, copyright ownership is often of only marginal benefit to the owner. If the margin is deemed too small to invest in distribution of a work, the public is deprived of that work until the copyright runs out. You can download the paper here.

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