Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Trouble (UPDATED)

Artist Vladimir Kush -- who, according to Artnet, "sells his own Surrealist-inspired work at his own Kush Fine Art, with locations in Lahaina, Hi., Las Vegas, Nev., Laguna Beach, Ca. and New York "-- has sued pop star Pink (and her record label) for copyright infringement in the Southern District of New York. He alleges that the music video for Pink’s single "U + Ur Hand" uses imagery from his painting Countes Erotiques.

Bill Patry doesn't seem overly impressed with the claim: "In my opinion, it is extremely likely that whoever created the image of the woman that opens the video ... 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)."

UPDATE: Fortune's Roger Parloff says "the images do, in fact, look extremely similar to me" -- "both images show a woman dressed only in red stockings clinging to the spine of a book in such a way that when she splays her limbs the book will open" -- and gets this further comment from Professor Patry: "I don’t think even if Kush created the image for the first time that he obtains a copyright on all other depictions of a naked woman mounting the back of a book spine. I think that’s all defendants took: the ceramic figure in the music video looks exactly alike in concept but not actual features."

It's one more example of how hard it can be to distinguish "ideas" from "expression." (See here for another recent example.)