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Here we'll explore the nexus of legal rulings, Capitol Hill policy-making, technical standards development, and technological innovation that creates -- and will recreate -- the networked world as we know it. Among the topics we'll touch on: intellectual property conflicts, technical architecture and innovation, the evolution of copyright, private vs. public interests in Net policy-making, lobbying and the law, and more.

Disclaimer: the opinions expressed in this weblog are those of the authors and not of their respective institutions.

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Copyfight

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April 21, 2006

Miro Heirs Quash Google Tribute

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Posted by Wendy Seltzer

Searching with Google yesterday, I smiled at its logo, playfully reworked to look like a Joan Miró painting in honor of the Spanish artist's birthday. His family and Artist's Rights Society weren't smiling, the Mercury News reported, asking Google to remove the tribute mid-day. Google honored the request while saying that the logo did not infringe.

[President of Artists Rights Society Theodore] Feder said the society receives hundreds of requests each day from media organizations who are interested in reproducing a copyrighted work in some form. He said the authorization process is simple: all Google needed to do was send an e-mail asking permission to use the images.

"We would have asked the estate or the family, and they would have said yes or no," he said.

But fair use, as U.S. courts recognize it, eliminates the need to ask permission. Fair use saves us from the sanitized world where only authorized tributes or commentary are permitted. Moral rights, applied in many European countries but not the U.S., protect the "integrity" of artists' works -- but even that was hardly under threat.

No one would think from this logo, which linked to a Google search for "Joan Miró," that the artist (who died in 1983) endorsed Google; instead, many more might have been inspired, as I was, to click through to some of the originals artworks whose elements were re-mixed here. Copyright prevents someone from making Miró lithographs without permission, it doesn't and shouldn't prevent Google from honoring artists before they're dead 70 years.

Enterprising Wikipedians have already added note of the controversy to the Miró biography.

Comments (2) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: IP Abuse


COMMENTS

1. Frances McNulty on April 21, 2006 4:05 PM writes...

I am intrigued, to say the least, with the controversy surrounding yesterday's special Google logo of the day. While anyone can and should appreciate the importance of a copyright, unauthorized use of an image, etc., etc. etc., this seems absurd.

I have become a devotee of Google's page, simply because of these changing logos. Some days they are anticipated because of a common or well-known holiday or event. Those most appreciated are the surprise and unexpected logos, for an obscure event or occasion. The result of these pique my curiosity and lead to further research and investigation of the event itself In the case of the Joan Miro logo, delving into other websites to learn about the artist and his work was the outcome. I even go so far as to try to print each new logo, on the day is appears, somewhat like a "first day cover" for new postage stamps. I have a large collection of these that I hope someday will be considered a collector's item, if not valuable then at least interesting.

I predict that the work of Joan Miro will forever remain in my memory, The objection by family and the "protectors" of his work have probably done more to enhance his reputation than anything else could have done. And the Google people should be able to garner some benefit, as well they deserve.

I look forward with enthusiasm to the future of more of these highly creative holiday and special event logos.

Permalink to Comment

2. Branko Collin on April 24, 2006 5:18 PM writes...

Why would a fair use defence even be needed here? As I understand it, copyright only burdens explicit expressions, not styles.

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