News

Green Day not liable for using artist’s work at concerts

Green Day not liable for using artist’s work at concerts

Dereck Seltzer wasn't happy when he learned that Green Day used his artwork without permission. Photo: Reuters

(Reuters) – Dereck Seltzer wasn’t happy when he learned that Green Day used his artwork without permission as a video backdrop at its concerts. But a federal appeals court on Wednesday said the popular rock band didn’t violate his rights.

The decision by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in California, in what it called a “close and difficult case,” can make it easier for performers to incorporate works of art to enhance the experience of concert fans, so long as they don’t simply copy the artwork or diminish its value.

Seltzer, a Los Angeles illustrator, in 2003 created “Scream Icon,” an abstract image of an anguished, contorted face that has been used on posters and plastered on walls as street art.

During a 2009 tour, Green Day, whose lead singer is Billie Joe Armstrong and which has sold more than 70 million records, used a version of the artwork covered by a red “spray-painted” cross in a video backdrop for its song “East Jesus Nowhere.”

The version had been adapted from a photo of a weathered and torn copy of Seltzer’s work posted on a brick wall on a corner of Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles.

Seltzer sued after rejecting a proposed settlement that included concert tickets. But a federal district judge in Los Angeles in 2011 rejected his claims of copyright infringement and violations of the Lanham Act, a federal trademark law.

In upholding that decision, Circuit Judge Diarmuid O’Scannlain wrote for the 9th Circuit that Green Day’s use of “Scream Icon” was fair, and was “transformative and not overly commercial” despite making few alterations.

“With the spray-painted cross, in the context of a song about the hypocrisy of religion, surrounded by religious iconography, (the) video backdrop using Scream Icon conveys new information, new aesthetics, new insights and understandings that are plainly distinct from those of the original piece,” O’Scannlain wrote for a three-judge panel.

O’Scannlain said Seltzer’s testimony that the value of his work wasn’t affected, and the absence of the work from Green Day merchandise and promotional material, also weighed in the band’s favor.

The 9th Circuit did overturn a $201,000 award of attorney’s fees to Green Day. Even though Seltzer lost, it said, he had not been “objectively unreasonable” by suing.

Nathan Canby, a lawyer at Rosenfeld, Meyer & Susman representing Seltzer, did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Peter Anderson, a lawyer for Green Day, did not immediately respond to similar requests.

Latest Headlines

1 hour ago in Entertainment, Sports

Rubin ‘Hurricane’ Carter, wrongly convicted of murder, dead

Fresh
hurrican

The boxer's imprisonment, and battle to free him, are immortalized in the Bob Dylan song "Hurricane" and the film of the same name, starring Denzel Washington.

yesterday in Entertainment

This weekend in entertainment history

elvis

A look back on the Hollywood headlines of days gone by.

Friday in Viral Videos

When a brother loses a bet

Dance Bet

A guy loses a bet to his younger brother and must dance on a busy street corner for 30 minutes. What happens next is amazing.

Friday in Entertainment

REVIEW: Johnny Depp and crew fail at ‘Transcendence’

This image released by Warner Brothers Pictures shows Johnny Depp in a scene from the sci-fi thriller "Transcendence."

Johnny Depp falls short of greatness in his latest film, but at least it's not "Lone Ranger."

Friday in Trending, Viral Videos

TODAY’S MUST SEE: 50 most frustrating video game moments

Video Games Sonic

Playing video games can be fun, into you run into one of these situations!

Latest Headlines

The company logo is seen on the bonnet of a Mazda car during the media day ahead of the 84th Geneva Motor Show at the Palexpo Arena in Geneva March 5, 2014.

In Lifestyle

Mazda recalls 190K SUVs for rust problem

Mazda is recalling 109,000 Tribute SUVs in cold-weather states to fix rusting frame parts.

recordstoreday

In Music

Record Store Day full of reunited bands, special editions

Record Store Day celebrates thousands of independent music shops around the world.

soundgarden

In Music

Listen to Soundgarden's 'Black Hole Sun' demo

Ahead of the 20th anniversary reissue of "Superunknown," Soundgarden releases the demo version of "Black Hole Sun."

davegrohl

In Music

Nirvana stars relieved by Hall of Fame finale failure

Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic were just fine with the way the Rock Hall inductions ended.

arcticmonkeys

In Music

Arctic Monkey slammed for 'synchronized' live shows

British rockers Arctic Monkeys have been slammed for their "synchronized" live performances by their tour mates The Orwells.