Don't Try To Create An Illustrated Version Of A David Bowie Song... Or The Copyright Police Will Come After You

from the ground-control-to-major-tom dept

David Bowie has generally been one of the more forward-looking and forward-thinking musicians out there in understanding the digital revolution. Hell, it was nearly a decade ago when Bowie predicted the end of copyright, and said this was "terribly exciting." Of course, there are only about 10 months left for copyright to disappear for his original prediction to come true, so we're going to assume he was a bit aggressive on the timeline. But, on the whole, Bowie seems to have recognized how the digital world was changing the nature of copyright.

Unfortunately, it appears that whoever holds the copyright on some of his music doesn't quite feel the same way. Someone sent over this article from the Toronto Star, about how an illustrator named Andrew Kolb created some nice illustrations to go with the famous Bowie song Space Oddity, turning it into something of a "children's book." Now leaving aside the... um... oddity of a "children's book" about an astronaut who dies in space, the illustrations looked pretty cool.

Except, as that started to get attention, Kolb was threatened with an infringement claim. Of course, the Star fails Journalism 101, in that it never actually names the party who holds the copyright or who threatened the illustrator. One might come away from the article believing it's David Bowie, but I'm guessing it was someone else. In fact, I reached out to Kolb to find out who sent the takedown, and he said that he'd rather not say, because -- despite starting with a legal nastygram, he's apparently still in contact with the copyright holder, and discussing the possibility of doing something in an authorized manner.

Of course, when I started writing this post, there was actually still a YouTube video of the book and song up, but now if you click below, you see that it's been taken down with a copyright claim from "Onward Music Ltd," who does appear to hold the copyright on the song.
Either way, Kolb, who did this purely for fun and not for profit, has pixelated out the name and stopped referring to it as Space Oddity. And seeing as the video is gone, here's an image from the pdf:
Now if Kolb were actually going out and trying to sell this as a book without the copyright holder's approval, you can see where the concern might be. But, seeing as he just did this for fun, it's basically a form of fan art, which most copyright holders (though certainly not all) seem to appreciate. It's somewhat bizarre that such a nice bit of artwork for a song would bring out copyright threats. Kolb seems somewhat amused at the whole setup and the idea that a fun little project he did brought out legal guns, and he certainly doesn't seem upset by it. I still think the whole thing is unfortunate. He was helping to promote the song, not harming it.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 9th, 2011 @ 4:12am

    So...another shining example of copyright promoting the progress of the arts?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 9th, 2011 @ 4:17am

    Now if Kolb were actually going out and trying to sell this as a book without the copyright holder's approval


    Can somebody explain this to me? IANAL but isn't this a transformation and so exempt from copyright?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 9th, 2011 @ 4:37am

    the Star fails Jouranlism 101 lol you fail at spell checking ;)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Sep 9th, 2011 @ 4:40am

    Re:

    IANAL either, but I could guess as the mockup of the book seems to include the lyrics that would be a problem.

    And then there is the whole ability for the content holder to stomp their foot and get a Judge to side with them.

     

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  5.  
    icon
    A Dan (profile), Sep 9th, 2011 @ 5:03am

    Typo

    "Jouranlism 101"?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 9th, 2011 @ 5:04am

    David Bowie, the guy who sold his "future revenues" based on his income from copyright works as bonds to investors?

    http://newsroom.mtv.com/2011/03/01/david-bowie-bonds/

    Yeah, okay.

     

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  7.  
    identicon
    Prisoner 201, Sep 9th, 2011 @ 5:15am

    Advertising for free is stealing from proffessional advertisers.

    Why do you want advertisers to starve and/or be forced to sell their homes, Mike?

    The time of wild west advertising is comeing to an end.

    Free speech was not meant to facilitate theft!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 9th, 2011 @ 5:29am

    Copyright's dead, baby. Copyright's dead.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    icon
    Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased) (profile), Sep 9th, 2011 @ 5:33am

    Re:

    You fail at HTML tagging

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 9th, 2011 @ 5:38am

    Re:

    The Washington Post has a LuLz approach to headlines.

    http://twitpic.com/6hd3in

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 9th, 2011 @ 6:02am

    Re: Re:

    You fail at punctuation.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 9th, 2011 @ 6:27am

    Re:

    He sold the silly Bowie Bonds to buy back the rights to his own music. I'm not really sure what your point is. He probably knew that they would be worthless if he sensed the direction that the industry would be heading. All he did was beat them at their own game. it was really a brilliant move...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
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    Gabriel Tane (profile), Sep 9th, 2011 @ 6:27am

    At first glance

    when I saw this on The Daily What Geek, I actually thought it was a children's book of 2001: A Space Odyssey.

    I can see how the copyright holders of the original song have a legitimate fear. /sarc

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 9th, 2011 @ 6:37am

    Re:

    The party is over, Masnick.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 9th, 2011 @ 6:42am

    Re: Re: Re:

    You all fail at trolling:

    Trolling: 0
    Funny: 1

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 9th, 2011 @ 6:43am

    Re: Re: Re:

    You got the ruler right?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 9th, 2011 @ 6:45am

    Re: Re:

    You jerks!
    There was party and nobody invited me?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    icon
    Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased) (profile), Sep 9th, 2011 @ 6:51am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Thanks: Il'l work. on; that(

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    icon
    LJSeinfeld (profile), Sep 9th, 2011 @ 6:52am

    Re: Prisoner 201's asinine comment

    Wow. Now go back and re-read what you've posted and tell me how stupid you feel.

    So if I tell you about a product I like, I'm stealing from professional advertisers? I hear the Packers won last night. Please don't call the NFL and tell them I told you.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 9th, 2011 @ 6:57am

    Re: Re: Prisoner 201's asinine comment

    So if I tell you about a product I like, I'm stealing from professional advertisers? I hear the Packers won last night.


    Yes, you are. If you can't see it then freetardation is too deeply ingrained in you. Kill yourself now.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 9th, 2011 @ 7:03am

    If this is sorted, wouldnt mind him doing a follow up with Ashes to Ashes. However this depends on copyright nonsence getting sorted. Le Sigh.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 9th, 2011 @ 7:04am

    Re: Re:

    If he sold them thinking they would be worthless, he could be guilty of securities fraud. If he didn't protect them, he could be guilty of allowing the value of the investment to decline.

    Let's just say that Mr Jones used his most valuable assets (his music) to secure his own future. He knew exactly what it was worth, no matter how much he might say otherwise.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 9th, 2011 @ 7:14am

    He never did good things,
    He never did bad things,
    He never did anything out of the blue...

    Don't lawyer up please.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
    icon
    Jay (profile), Sep 9th, 2011 @ 7:32am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Let me make sure I'm following along in my home here...

    By selling his own music, he can be charged with a securities fraud by devaluing the price of music he created...

    And can perform anytime he wants to...

    Based on some lawyer wanting to make his life a living hell for more profit. Is that how I'm seeing your argument? Is that really how you want to present it?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 9th, 2011 @ 7:39am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Let's see. First we fail at...

    Spell Checking

    HTML tagging

    Punctuation

    Trolling

    Measuring

    Then comes profit?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
    icon
    Nicholas Alexander (profile), Sep 9th, 2011 @ 7:40am

    re comment 12

    I wonder if Onward Music's ownership of this copyright was part of the motivation behind him carefully protecting his works since then? So many artists from the 60s and 70s had no protection so now do not care about the abundant sharing of their works via youtube etc. Even though Bowie has copyrighted his music he has done plenty to encourage the use of his works on the internet. Being aware that more is to be gained from promulgation than endless court cases with some of his earlier management entities.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 9th, 2011 @ 8:18am

    How dare someone enforce intellectual property rights. If you create something, it should be public domain, so anyone can do whatever they want with it. It's only fair.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
    icon
    Atkray (profile), Sep 9th, 2011 @ 8:20am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Only koolaid no cookies. You didn't miss much.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 9th, 2011 @ 8:37am

    Re:

    Well, what is art without an audience?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
    identicon
    Prisoner 201, Sep 9th, 2011 @ 9:38am

    Re: Re: Re: Prisoner 201's asinine comment

    Exactly*.

    This hippie culture of being able to advertise what you want, when you want, using only your mouth, is what is bringing this great country to its knees.

    LJS, can you honestly not see how many patriotic American job opportunities are lost because people choose to advertise for free?

    Can't you see its morally wrong to steal, commit mass murder and/or molest children?


    (*) Except the killing part. Dead people dont buy 200+ DVDs per year like everyone else.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 9th, 2011 @ 10:06am

    Lol at comments, you guys are too much.
    Additionally, I would have commented at the "Star's" site, but they mine info for the ability to make commentary on their articles.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32.  
    icon
    Soma (profile), Sep 9th, 2011 @ 10:22am

    Daawww, that pdf really makes me wanna see the whole thing. Oh, and listen to Bowie. Copyright c**kblocked again.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33.  
    icon
    Jeffrey Nonken (profile), Sep 9th, 2011 @ 12:20pm

    Obviously he stole the helmet design from
    2001 so he deserves to be sued, jailed, shot, hanged, chopped into little tiny pieces and buried alive.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 9th, 2011 @ 12:27pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    what??? but that's the same old shit you copyrighturds have been drinking everyday for years! this party stinks!!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35.  
    identicon
    Gordon C Harrison, Sep 9th, 2011 @ 12:50pm

    Re: re comment 12

    Hi Nicholas, you asked per permission to reproduce my copyright comments in another article on Techdirt. I responded that you can and don't need TechDirt's permission but my reply has not been posted.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  36.  
    identicon
    Anon, Sep 10th, 2011 @ 12:09pm

    "He was helping to promote the song, not harming it."? B.S. -- The song certainly didn't need any of Kolb's help to be famous; Kolb was promoting nothing but himself by using the song, and seemed to do so quite handily. First, the original news about this made it seem like a collaboration, which it obviously wasn't, so now he's getting even more publicity by making David Bowie seem like the bad guy.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  37.  
    icon
    Nicholas Alexander (profile), Sep 11th, 2011 @ 6:23pm

    Re: Re: re comment 12

    thanks Gordon - I did see it and have placed it on my arts blog manifestarts.co.uk

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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