Thursday 17 October 2013

"Underneath the mango tree ...": when cartoons improve reality

This blogger was just ten years old in 1962 when Dr No hit the silver screen and changed the world of movie fact and fantasy forever. When the lovely Ursula Andress (or "Ursula Undress" as she was generally known) emerged from the foam, shell in hand, with a voluptuous nod to Botticelli's Venus and a cute way of waking up James Bond by singing "Underneath the Mango Tree", we all knew something special had happened in our lives. This was as good as we thought it could ever get.

Fast forward to 2013 and this blogger finds himself staring at this YouTube clip of a cartoon version of the same Venus-emerging-from-the-foam scene, astonished at the impact that the deconstruction of reality can have upon the visual senses.  This is the work of HQCartoons, using Autoscope ("turns normal videos into stunning cartoons ...", and the impact is genuine.  Other clips sent in by Les Hurdle (thank, Les!) are from "Department S" (here) and "Randall & Hopkirk Deceased" (here).

The exercise of cartoonising clips of real-life action is of course not devoid of interesting copyright implications.  Quite apart from the moral rights question, when the creator of a film regards his work (rightly or wrongly) as being mutilated or distorted by this process, there are implications for economic rights as well. Substantiality of the amount of the original work copied can be assumed in most cases, but some jurisdictions will be grappling with defences of parody or transformative use, to be sure.  On the non-contentious side, are there templates and boilerplates for paid-for permitted cartoonisation? Are such activities being licensed? Have they attracted the attention of collecting societies? What's the story? If any reader can enrich us all by telling us, we hope that he or she will soon come forward to do so.


Andy J said...

At the risk of sounding a little churlish, what is the point of that conversion, other than showing that it can be done? I suspect the whole process is done by software and that the human creativity is minimal. No doubt an American court would would probably find it was transformative and thus fair use, but really it seems to me that ss 16(1)(e) and 17(2) CDPA are fully engaged and this is out and out infringement.
Sorry not to be able to answer the actual questions posed in the post!

john walker said...

Andy I have to agree. Its merely a close, mechanical translation.

Jeremy, a 'translation' a 'trans-formative' use?