Copyright Claim By Freddie Mercury's Charity Results In Removal Of Another Charity's Freddie Mercury Gorilla

from the go-go-bananas dept

There must be something about the band Queen that makes people go IP crazy. A while back was the hilarious news about a drunk Canadian singing Bohemian Rhapsody, with EMI taking the video down before relenting amid the backlash. How could you get more bizarre than that, right? Well, first you'd have to come up with two unrelated charities, the only common denominator being that each has something to do with the band Queen. Then you'd have to introduce a fiberglass gorilla painted to look like Freddie Mercury, long-dead lead singer of the band. Finally, you'd have to make sure that said Freddie Mercury gorilla was removed from public view over a copyright claim.
Look, I know what you're thinking. No way did a Freddie Mercury gorilla get removed via a copyright claim. Didn't happen, you're thinking. Couldn't happen. Sorry, folks, it happened -- whether or not the copyright is valid. At the very least, the threat of copyright action has resulted in the removal of the gorilla.
Mercury Phoenix Trust contacted Wild in Art, the company that supplied the gorilla glass-fibre canvases, according to director Charlie Langhorne.

"They just said that they own the copyright on the suit and asked us to change it," Mr Langhorne said. "That's being sorted. To save any bother we will change it."
Mercury Phoenix Trust is an AIDS charity constructed in the name of Freddie Mercury, who died of the disease. Go Go Gorillas, the charity that commissioned the Mercury gorilla, is supported by Brian May, former guitarist for Queen. Go Go Gorillas is running the gorilla campaign to raise awareness and funds for conservation efforts in the Congo. All laudable goals made petty via the use of copyright laws to take down the Freddie Mercury gorilla and replace it with a newly painted version.

Whether or not there's a legitimate copyright claim in the "jacket" from Mercury Phoenix Trust seems like an open question (and it's pretty easy to argue that the copyright claim is highly questionable). But, really, does that even matter when the mere threat of a copyright claim is enough to have the statue pulled?
The whole situation seems rather ridiculous.
Martin Green of Break, one of two charities that will benefit from the auction of the gorillas once the exhibition is over, said: "It's a disappointing position they have put us in.

"Freddie is one of our most popular gorillas on the trail and now we've got to remove him from the streets, but we're respecting the wishes of another charity."
So thanks a lot, copyright. You've been used as a pawn in a needless battle between two charities with far greater work to do, all the while depriving me of a gorilla that looks like it's about to sing We Will Rock You to anyone within listening distance. Personally, I can't think of a greater crime against humanity.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    Lord Binky, Jul 9th, 2013 @ 1:29pm

    Mercury Phoenix Trust HAS to send the copyright notice, or else it's like they are wasting the donated money on lawyers for no reason.

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

  2. identicon
    Pixelation, Jul 9th, 2013 @ 1:57pm

    Well, I have to admit, looking at the gorilla does cause me some confusion.

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

  3. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 9th, 2013 @ 1:58pm

    not exactly what you would call a very charitable reaction, though!

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

  4. icon
    Not an Electronic Rodent (profile), Jul 9th, 2013 @ 1:59pm

    Could have been worse...

    ...could have been a Bananarama gorilla...

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

  5. icon
    Sheogorath (profile), Jul 9th, 2013 @ 2:00pm

    Wait, what?

    So Freddie Mercury still has a publicity right, even though he died in the early 1990s? *headdesks repeatedly*

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

  6. icon
    John Fenderson (profile), Jul 9th, 2013 @ 2:14pm

    Re: Wait, what?

    It's even sillier. This isn't a publicity rights case, or even about the gorilla itself. They're claiming copyright on the outfit that the gorilla is wearing.

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

  7. icon
    PopeRatzo (profile), Jul 9th, 2013 @ 2:46pm

    on its face

    So, I probably should shave my big black pornstache, right? I can't afford the lawyers if they sue me.

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

  8. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 9th, 2013 @ 3:34pm

    Oh great...another apology note written in Comic Sans, this time thanks to a questionable copyright claim. Another reason the whole copyright-claim racket has gotten way out of control.

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

  9. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 9th, 2013 @ 7:21pm

    I tried to tell people that it was coming to this long ago and they always told me things like "your tripping", eventually even told me "I don't give a ****". of course this was back during the sopa/pipa crap.

    I was worried because the internet was so valuable. I remember going to google one day and noticed it was all screwed up. it's not near as functional as it used to be. I used to be able to do complex searches and pretty much make it return the results exactly the way I wanted. now when I try that it always says "no search results found". even just using quotes around a search string has a different behavior than it used to. used to all the bold text in the search results would always show up as one bold sentence or phrase etc... try that now and all the bold words are broken up just like it is when you leave out the quotes.

    google is way different, youtube and probably yahoo and everything on the internet is different. this is BS. all because tv, games, music and entertainment is the #1 priority lets ruin the web over it.

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

  10. icon
    G Thompson (profile), Jul 9th, 2013 @ 11:17pm

    Hang on this is all about a piece of fashion/clothing that by definition can NOT be copyrighted?


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

  11. icon
    totalz (profile), Jul 10th, 2013 @ 1:10am

    A shame for Mercury Phoenix Trust to call itself a charity!

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

  12. icon
    JustMe (profile), Jul 10th, 2013 @ 5:15am


    How Mercury Phoenix Trust has a leg to stand on here. Unless they are the executor of Freddy's estate then I don't see how they have any rights whatsoever. Even if they are the executor, then how can one claim protection for an outfit?

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

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