Friday, December 8, 2023

Warning: You Have Adapted a Roy Lichtenstein Image. This Is a Copyright Violation.

Elsinore Album Cover

Elsinore Album Cover

Is adapting an adapted Lichtenstein image copyright infringement? No, says rock band Elsinore, who allege that they received a letter from the intellectual property manager for the Roy Lichtenstein Estate claiming that the band  had adapted a Lichtenstein’s Kiss V image for the cover of their new album without consent.


Roy Lichtenstein. Kiss V, 1964.

So, you ask, can Lichtenstein claim copyright infringement if Elsinore’s album cover image was based not on Lichtenstein’s Kiss V, but rather on the same source that Lichtenstein used to create Kiss V. If that’s the case, the answer is most likely “no” (I hesitate only because if there’s anything in life more unpredictable than art and copyright law, I have yet to find it).  Lichtenstein’s Estate may reject that argument and instead claim the album cover image is based on Lichtenstein’s Kiss V. Assuming the album cover image is based on Lichtenstein’s painting, the question is what copyright, if any, Lichtenstein actually owns, as the issue of originality will come into play, not to mention the question of whether or not Lichtenstein added any new material to the preexisting image (the original source).

Other questions remain. Did the Roy Lichtenstein Estate jump the gun? Does the original source still fall under copyright protection? If so, who owns the copyright? Were there any negotiations between the original copyright owner and Lichtenstein? These are but a few. Let’s see what happens.

Check out Elsinore’s blog entry and Lichtenstein’s Estate letter here.

UPDATE: May 11, 2010

Elsinore wins; Lichtenstein’s estate comes to its senses.


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