Yet another copyright outrage, from Gizmodo (h/t Paul Vahur):
Mat Honan —Photographer and 72-room New York City mansion dweller Jay Maisel successfully chiseled thousands of dollars out of independent (and awesome) Web developer Andy Baio over an iffy copyright infringement claim. It’s outrageous and wrong, and Maisel should be ashamed.
[Full disclosure: Andy and I were colleagues at a webzine startup more than a decade ago.]
I went out of my way to make sure the entire project was above board, licensing all the cover songs from Miles Davis’s publisher and giving the total profits from the Kickstarter fundraiser to the five musicians that participated. But there was one thing I never thought would be an issue: the cover art.
Unfortunately for Baio, it turns out that Maisel is an aggressive copyright defender. It meant that Baio had to shell out a $32,000 settlement, and plunk down another $10-15 thousand dollars in legal fees out of his own pocket. He is not allowed to use the artwork ever again.
Maisel, on the other hand, didn’t have to pay his attorneys anything to litigate the case. They take their fees out of his winnings, as he explicitly notes in an endorsement on his lawyers’ website.
They earn their fee by charging a percentage of what they obtain for you; no money for you, no fee for them. I highly recommend them.
I bet you do, Jay!
Interestingly, Baio may be in the clear, legally. The Supreme Court has weighed in on fair use and said it’s okay in the case of “transformative” works noting the judgement should focus “on whether the new work merely supersedes the objects of the original creation, or whether and to what extent it is controversially transformative, altering the original with new expression, meaning, or message. The more transformative the new work, the less will be the significance of other factors, like commercialism, that may weigh against a finding of fair use.”
But we’ll never know, because Baio settled claiming it was the least expensive thing to do. He doesn’t, however, admit any wrongdoing or guilt.