Green Day Emerge Victorious in Concert Artwork Lawsuit
Green Day have emerged victorious after being sued by an artist who proclaimed his artwork had been used without consent in the band’s concerts. Reuters reports that Dereck Seltzer took legal action against the band when his “scream icon” turned up during the band’s 2009 trek.
The image in question featured an anguished face and had been used on posters and plastered as street art. Green Day had used a version of the artwork, adding a red “spray-painted” cross in the video backdrop for their song ‘East Jesus Nowhere.’
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in California ruled in favor of the band in what was called “a close and difficult case.” The ruling allowed it to be possible for performers to incorporate works of art to enhance the concert experience so long as they don’t simply copy the artwork or diminish its value.
The version that Green Day used has been adapted from a photo of a weathered and torn copy of Seltzer’s work that had been posted on a wall on Los Angeles’ Sunset Boulevard. Judge Diarmuid O’Scannlain wrote that the “Scream Icon” was fair usage as it was “transformative and not overly commercial.”
Seltzer originally sued after rejecting a settlement claim from the band, but a federal district judge rejected his copyright and trademark claims in 2011, which led to his recent appeal.
Green Day didn’t come out completely unscathed though, as the band were ordered to return $201,000 in attorney’s fees from the previous ruling. The court overturned a ruling that Seltzer’s lawsuit was not “objectively unreasonable.”