Kirby Ferguson’s latest installment of Everything is a Remix arrived this week. So did Andy Baio’s announcement that he’d settled out of court on a copyright infringement for his Miles Davis tribute album Kind of Bloop — not for the music, which Baio licensed, but the cover art, which photographer Jay Maisel argued was too much like his original.
At the heart of this settlement is a debate that’s been going on for decades, playing out between artists and copyright holders in and out of the courts. In particular, I think this settlement raises some interesting issues about the state of copyright for anyone involved in digital reinterpretations of copyrighted works.
The conclusion of Baio’s post shows the same artwork with greater and greater pixelation, very effectively showing the murky boundary between homage and infringement.
It’s a great and unanswerable question for screenwriters: When does something in your screenplay stop being a reference to another movie, and start being theft?