Update to the Green Day Case
On Thursday, the appeals court affirmed the decision of the Los Angeles federal district court, rejecting Seltzer’s claims. Judge Diarmuid F. O’Scannlain wrote, that “the purpose and character of the use was transformative and not overly commercial,” therefore, falling within the Copyright Act’s codified defense to copyright infringement.
Although “Scream Icon” was still clearly identifiable throughout the roughly four-minute video, the court ruled that Green Day’s use was “transformative,” conveying “new information, new aesthetics, new insights and understandings” that were distinct from the original piece.
Green Day’s use altered the original image. It incorporated a large red cross over top of the black and white image, creating a color contrast in the video, as well as the addition of black streaks down right side of the woman’s face. The judge stated that “with the spray-painted cross, in the context of a song about the hypocrisy of religion, surrounded by religious iconography,” the work was transformative of the original.
However, the court overturned the award of legal fees to the band of $201,012, as the court decided that even though Mr. Seltzer had lost his challenge, he had not been “objectively unreasonable” in suing.
Source: The New York Times