Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Artist Sees Pink, Wants Green

Singer Pink and her label Zomba have been sued in the SDNY for infringement by artist Vladimir Kush over alleged unauthorized use of his painting, "Contes Erotiques" in a music video for "U + Ur Hand." In the video a book opens up, revealing Pink dressed as a car mechanic. Wikipedia has a lengthy entry that tells you more than you want to know about the song and the video, here. Here is a link to the video, which begins with a toy figure of a woman, mostly nude, mounting the spine of a book and opening it up. Through the video, the book opens up and shows pictures of Pink as well as various text.

Vladmir Kush is a Russian emigre. (See his own story of himself here). Kush's painting (link here to his site to see the work) depicts a naked woman mounting a book's spine with a quill sticking through pages. Other than a rather trite metaphor, the meaning of the painting is lost on me, but then so is Pink. That said, I far prefer the painting.

In my opinion, it is extremely likely that whoever created the image of the woman that opens the video (and I would be surprised if that was Pink herself), did so after seeing Kush's work. But Kush doesn't have a copyright in the idea of a naked woman mounting the back of a book even if he was the first to come up with it (something I have no way of knowing). Moreover, after the quick initial showing of the toy woman in the video (which doesn't much look like Kush's anyway), the scenes with a book opening bear no resemblance to Kush's work.


dhaskel said...

I agree, in all probability the woman /book combination was independently created. However, it seems that three of the characters in the video were inspired by another artist's work: http://www.illicit.co.nz/news.htm
The biker chick seems closest, though there are a number of differences in each one. I would venture they're substantially similar, and little chance of independent creation.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Patry,
Disregard the people who left their comments on your blog - they are ignorant about the creative process...but I was surprised to hear from the "pro" like yourself that "VK cannot copyright the idea of the woman in the book" Well, VK easily won in this lawsuit because the judge was obviosly smarter and the record company had to pay. It is in the news...

William Patry said...

Dear VK, the problem with the broad statement that X can't copyright the idea of Y is that the devil is always in the details, meaning how expansively or narrowly one defines the particular idea Y. This is a problem that has recognized from the beginning of Anglo-American copyright and is insoluble.