Back in August of 2009, when Kickstarter was still a baby and the TikTok a mere twinkle in Scott Wilson's eye, Andy Baio launched his Kickstarter project, Kind of Bloop. It was the 50th anniversary of Miles Davis' "Kind of Blue," and to commemorate it, Andy rallied a group of chiptune artists to reinvent the album using 8-bit sound. Think Freddie Freeloader fed through a Nintendo.
Everyone loved it.
A year later, Andy found himself in the middle of a lawsuit over the cover art for "Kind of Bloop," a completely recreated pixel art version of Jay Maisel's photo. Andy eventually settled with Maisel out of court, to the tune of $32,500 and the loss of rights to ever use the cover image again. "But," as Andy says, "this is important: the fact that I settled is not an admission of guilt. My lawyers and I firmly believe that the pixel art is 'fair use' and Maisel and his counsel firmly disagree. I settled for one reason: this was the least expensive option available."
In short, a sobering reminder to those of us doing creative work that sometimes the law can interfere even with our best intentions.
Andy explains the whole thing on his blog today, and we urge you to hop over and study the many examples and interpretations of fair use he's collected.
And this is just as good a time as any to reiterate what we say in our Project Edit page:
Don't use music, images, video, or other content that you don't have the rights to. Reusing copyrighted material is almost always against the law and can lead to expensive lawsuits down the road. The easiest away to avoid copyright troubles is to create all the content yourself.