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Pink-collar crime
August 3, 2006 7:20 PM   Subscribe

P!nk, aka Alecia Moore, aka the hip new face of copyright infringement. P!nk’s latest video, U + Ur Hand, [youtube] blatantly appropriates characters created by late New Zealand artist Martin Emond [possibly NSFW]. No permission was sought or granted, but Illicit Clothing, which manage’s Emond’s estate, do not feel they have sufficient resources to sue Sony BMG. Nevertheless, they and Emond’s fans are justifiably livid. It is highly unlikely that Emond, who took his own life in 2004, and whose musical tastes went in a very different direction, would have felt any different.
posted by Soulfather (44 comments total)

 
For revenge we should all download her album without paying! Or I guess copywright infringement is only bad when the victims are struggling artists.
posted by jonson at 7:27 PM on August 3, 2006


Haven't you heard ... we live in the age of wicked remixes and cool mash-ups. Ideas should be free for appropriation and use by others. Copyright sux.
posted by jayder at 7:28 PM on August 3, 2006


That's ok - YouTube's violating Sony BMG's copyright here.
posted by Guy Smiley at 7:28 PM on August 3, 2006


People slag her all the time, but I kinda like Pink.
Proceed with the merciless mockery.
posted by nightchrome at 7:31 PM on August 3, 2006


That is not copyright infringement. Not much else to say about it. The style is similar, but it's not even close to infringing.
posted by delmoi at 7:33 PM on August 3, 2006


The video kinda sucks, though.
posted by delmoi at 7:37 PM on August 3, 2006


Fine. I think copyright should end with the artist/desigher/author's death anyway.

It looked like a homage to me. It's been done to death in videos. And books. Madonna's Sex book copied some Guy Boudin photographs.

It's not like she is selling those designs.
posted by ?! at 7:37 PM on August 3, 2006


The top one is actually that Crazy Frog character.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 7:37 PM on August 3, 2006


I am not sure I really see the infringement here. There are some similarities, but meh. I have not been a fan of Pink, but I do like this song. It seems to have a little more real passion than some of the others I have heard.
posted by caddis at 7:38 PM on August 3, 2006


And by the way, it's not like pink fucking directed the video. There would have been a director and probably a costume director who chose the outfits, etc.
posted by delmoi at 7:38 PM on August 3, 2006


As we all realised Marty was well ahead of everyone in creating new looks and characters!!! At least its not Britney Spears huh!?

What boring tasteless cunts.
posted by cillit bang at 7:39 PM on August 3, 2006


That is not copyright infringement. Not much else to say about it. The style is similar, but it's not even close to infringing.

What's more, the clothing producers couldn't even begin to
afford that kind of advertising for their products.

There's a reason why couture designers bend over backwards
to get their creations onto the backs of movie and pop stars.
They never ask for payment because they know that the sales
they'll get off the back of the exposure will be worth zillions.

How are the teeth on that gift horse? They look a little ropey
to me.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 7:44 PM on August 3, 2006


I'm annoyed at the artist for not spelling "stiletto" right, so I'm going to have to side with Pink here.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 7:46 PM on August 3, 2006


Seems like a direct lift to me, but I'm not sure that makes it copyright infringement. It could very well have been an homage, as the spirit of the song seems in line with his art, even if he did prefer Danzig. I like Danzig too, and I don't think this song sucks. (I actually think it's pretty funny.)

I have no idea how that sort of IP law is defined, but I tell ya...I'd LOVE to see Sony get sued for IP infringement. That would be bloody genius.
posted by dejah420 at 7:48 PM on August 3, 2006


What boring tasteless cunts.

Speaking of tasteless...you should know. What with being an offensive prick and all.
posted by bim at 7:56 PM on August 3, 2006


Hi bim!
posted by cillit bang at 8:01 PM on August 3, 2006


The only infringement I see here is Emond’s infringement of Simon Bisley's style.
posted by lekvar at 8:04 PM on August 3, 2006


Seriously, this isn't infringement in any way. And the artist's original stuff isn't really that original either, I'm sure he's lifted at least as many ideas from other artists in his time.

This is sort of like the NIN video for "Perfect Drug", which mimics the art of Edward Gorey. It's totally legal, and people should probably just see it as a homage.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 8:06 PM on August 3, 2006


I don't find it at all justifiable to be livid about the reuse of a dead person's art without permission. The dead person can't possibly give permission, and no one else has any logical authority to demand it. Post-death copyright kills culture.
posted by scottreynen at 8:13 PM on August 3, 2006


a HA! BISLEY! I was looking through those images on Emonds site and couldn't place just who it reminded me of...

Thanks, lekvar, for reminding me. Gotta go revisit some old Doom Patrol covers now.
posted by SmileyChewtrain at 8:34 PM on August 3, 2006


Hmm, it looks like Emond did have a GIANT CALVIN tattoo across his back, that's gotta count for something.
posted by SmileyChewtrain at 8:39 PM on August 3, 2006


OK, I concede that I should downgrade my description of the video from infringment to insensitive but legally fair use. It's insensitive because whatever stylist or director decided on the look of the video, being obviously familiar with Marty's work, must have known about his death. If he were still alive, it would probably be a different matter. Even without a legal leg to stand on, he might be angry, but he would probably, realistically, be at least somewhat flattered. As it is, they have unnecessarily upset Marty's fans and the people who care about him. At the very least, that's disrespectul, and nothing to do with flattery.

You can't say that this is in any way promoting Marty's work, because only a tiny fraction of the audience will have any idea that the character concepts were not original to P!nk or her creative team. Emond's stuff is extremely popular - beloved isn't going too far - by his fans, but he's still pretty obscure. This is clearly the motivation of video makers' motivation - they thought no one would notice they were copying someone else's work.

An homage is all well and good, but this is clearly an example of trying to pass off someone else's work as your own, which is why I described it as infringement in my post. OK, it isn't really infringing in a legal sense. But I don't think I'm wrong to see it as ethically dubious.

And, PeterMcDermott, the limited controversy might make for a tiny amount of free publicity for Illicit in NZ, but I can't see it having any meaningful effect on their sales. We're a small country and the brand is already pretty successful here - anyone who is likely to buy their stuff already knows about them. And it's not as if they made the clothes P!nk is wearing in the video or anything. That would be a completely different matter.

PS I still quite like P!nk, too. Especially since I saw her Stupid Girls video. This does piss me off quite a bit, but I don't blame her for it.
posted by Soulfather at 8:53 PM on August 3, 2006


Wouldn't this be a trademark violation?
posted by polyhedron at 9:03 PM on August 3, 2006


I've been cutting a trailer to this song for the last couple of weeks. It always struck me as a sort of anthem for cockteases. Why do people go to bars if their only goal is to shit on people? Not something I really understand.

Anyway, man, that video is boring. I can see how they stole stuff, but didn't really do much with it! Is the text stolen from somewhere too?
posted by fungible at 9:04 PM on August 3, 2006


What boring tasteless cunts.

a little duck sauce usually fixes things
posted by StrasbourgSecaucus at 9:09 PM on August 3, 2006


Wouldn't this be a trademark violation?

No.

OK, I concede that I should downgrade my description of the video from infringment to insensitive but legally fair use. It's insensitive because whatever stylist or director decided on the look of the video, being obviously familiar with Marty's work, must have known about his death

Well fuck him if that were true. Bill Watterson absolutely hated (and still hates I assume) people using images of Calvin without permission, and yet this guy had him tattooed on his back. If he was upset about this at all, he would have been a hypocrite.

Anyway if his fans are upset they really need to get over themselves. It's not like this is the first time someone has paid homage to a dead artist.
posted by delmoi at 9:14 PM on August 3, 2006


As it is, they have unnecessarily upset Marty's fans and the people who care about him.

Uh-oh! Somebody better call the waahhmbulance.
posted by Zozo at 9:17 PM on August 3, 2006


So, wait, is copyright good or bad? I forget which side I'm supposed to be on.
posted by oaf at 9:19 PM on August 3, 2006


The only infringement I see here is Emond’s infringement of Simon Bisley's style.


Using the English language, I see. No imagination.
posted by Wataki at 9:40 PM on August 3, 2006


Sorry, no comprendo.
posted by lekvar at 10:03 PM on August 3, 2006


eh, who gives a shit. everyone should appropriate everything! it's not like the original work is now gone, or anything.

"insensitive but legally fair use", my ass! i can't wait for the day when this sort of thing isn't considered newsworthy.
posted by jimmy at 10:51 PM on August 3, 2006


i can't wait for the day when this sort of thing isn't considered newsworthy.

It's not just some whiners whining.

Btw, Zozo I'm suing you for using the phrase "Waahhmbulance", which I think I used in 1997 or something.

Actually the director probably was trying to pay homage to the guy, and who ever ended up with his artistic estate (some random clothing company?) decided to bitch about it in order to get some publicity.
posted by delmoi at 11:19 PM on August 3, 2006


And, PeterMcDermott, the limited controversy might make for a tiny amount of free publicity for Illicit in NZ, but I can't see it having any meaningful effect on their sales.

How many Pink fans must there be in the global market? This is a perfect opportunity to sell them all product that's as unambiguously and enthusiastically endorsed by Pink as you're ever going to get. She's not being paid to embrace the product, she's doing it because *she* thinks it's cool.

Again, you can't buy that kind of endorsement. If you wanted to buy something close, it would cost you in excess of a million.

If Illicit don't have the nouse to make the most of a marketing opportunity like this, then they aren't running a business, they're simply playing at it -- and Emond's estate should take the franchise to a company who knows how to make the most of this kind of situation.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 11:37 PM on August 3, 2006


I imagine that at least a few people here have seen the "Stupid Girl" video. In that video, she parodies Jessica Simpson directly, mocks a Paris Hilton sex tape, and name-drops Fred Segal and 50 Cent in clearly negative connotations, but as far as I know, none of these groups sued Pink.

But suing an obscure, and deceased, artist's images in ways which pay homage to him, and which don't actually violate copyright, is grounds for litigation?

I almost hope this goes to court just so that the "People vs. Larry Flint" ruling may be a little better defined.
posted by Navelgazer at 11:49 PM on August 3, 2006


So that's how marketing works now ? I mean if to promote Punk one have to wave the flag of copyright outrage the product needs every last bit of attention..what about her just falling into and out cocaine like some model.
posted by elpapacito at 2:15 AM on August 4, 2006


Does anyone else think that video would have been really cool without all the storybook crap?
posted by ®@ at 3:57 AM on August 4, 2006


Pink Will Eat Itself. Ummm. Or something.
posted by pax digita at 6:03 AM on August 4, 2006


we should all download her album without paying!

Then upload some rootkit malware to Sony's webservers in return.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 6:06 AM on August 4, 2006


You can't say that this is in any way promoting Marty's work

The guy's dead. Unless you believe in some sort of afterlife that involves royalty checks, I don't see why anyone should care what does or does not promote his work, except for the benefit of public culture, and that basically boils the argument down to an entirely subjective "I don't like this song." Which is fine if you don't, but don't try to frame your personal art preferences as some sort of moral superiority by saying you're looking out for a dead guy. Dead guys don't need us looking out for them.
posted by scottreynen at 6:08 AM on August 4, 2006


Damn!
I'm not sure exactly how well this lawsuit will proceed (that is, that it has legs). But surely this can't be the only MTV video that rapes another's art.

Emond did a couple of covers for my band
back in the days when waaahmbulaance was new to me.

He was pretty awesome, and if any nice thing came out of this, it's that I know he's got some following. Piss-poor consolation, but still...
posted by Busithoth at 6:31 AM on August 4, 2006


She has an amazingly delectable tush.
posted by illiad at 7:28 AM on August 4, 2006


Emond also did covers for the Lobo comic. Which might help explain his similarities to Bisely.
posted by clunkyrobot at 7:43 AM on August 4, 2006


I'd say, with reference to the delectable Ms P!nk: "I'd hit it."
EXCEPT she looks like she'd "hit" me like a truck, and keep right on driving...

that said...His parody cover "LoboCop" is a direct reference to a Sorayama-like [NSFW, mostly] image used by TSR Games back in the 80s for the game Gammarauders...(damn google image search won't back me up on this one...)

"Bad artists copy. Great artists steal." -- Pablo Picasso
posted by I, Credulous at 5:58 AM on August 5, 2006


Hey all, I've rounded up a bunch of stuff related to the case, including mainstream news coverage, a statement from Emonds' people and a Smoking Gun account of a similar case involving Madonna.

http://fandumb.wordpress.com/2006/08/09/pink-vs-martin-emonds-wrapup/
posted by Tuffy at 4:30 AM on August 9, 2006


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