Okay, this is just getting ridiculous. Artist Maya Hayuk is suing RCA and Sony Music because a mural she painted — and which appears to be in a public area — appears (rather briefly) in the background of a music video by Elle Varner. You can see the video below:
The colorful mural really isn’t in the video that long and is hardly a central part of the video. It’s just part of the background (and doesn’t even show up until pretty far in). But Hayuk claims that using it in such a video without a license is infringement. We’ve seen plenty of other attempts to claim copyright on public artwork and it strikes us as equally ridiculous each time. If you’re putting your artwork in public, it should be non-infringing if someone else happens to capture it in a photograph or video.
There’s a separate factoid in the case, which is that Hayuk apparently created the original mural for a different music video, starring Rye Rye and M.I.A., which you can see below:
So part of this might just be about “competing” videos both using the same mural (briefly in both cases). Though, honestly, the two videos are extremely different, and unless you’re really spending much time paying attention to the walls in the background, you probably wouldn’t even notice that this is the same wall. Of course, it’s always entertaining when a major label gets sued for copyright infringement, but this case really just highlights how ridiculous copyright law has become these days that merely dancing in front of a wall can be considered copyright infringement. It’s entirely possible that this will be found to be infringement, but any system that leads to such a conclusion has serious problems. The mural is public, and having people film a music video there is something that happens. Don’t want it? Paint over the mural or put it on private property.