This post, Digitization 101: Google and copyright (moral rights), and in this one, Diglet: Google Takes Down Miro Logo Art, each reference a Mercury News article that makes me fear for this nation’s ability to do creative work.
Last week Google put up one of their signature logo-morphs that honored the artist Joan Miro, who’s family promptly requested that Google remove the altered logo because:
“There are underlying copyrights to the works of Miro, and they are putting it up without having the rights,” said Theodore Feder, president of Artists Rights Society. (see the Mercury News article)
Now, I’m not a copyright lawyer by any means, so I may be way off base here, but I find it very hard to believe that this logo infringed on Miro’s family’s rights in any way. First off, this work was transformative more than derivative. It certainly didn’t reduce the market value of the original, and it could even have increased interest in the original. In fact, the use seems to fall squarely within the language of Section 107 (the fair use section) of the US Code. This seems to be comment, or even news reporting, more than anything else.
If this is infringing, creative work over the next decades will be smothered to death.