Apparently Lady Gaga Doesn’t Like Animation

Lady GoogooVia: TBI

This just in, yesterday, The Hollywood Reporter among others posted that Lady Gaga has won an injunction against a parody creation from Mind Candy called Lady Goo Goo. The reason?

“Lady Gaga argued that the character would confuse consumers.”AWN

There’s a couple of different aspects to this decision but all spell potential trouble for animators or studios so they are well worth being aware of.

Firstly, there’s the issue of confusion with the real Lady Gaga and secondly there’s the issue of parody works and whether or not they are legal. Before you carry on reading though, here’s a video of Lady Goo Goo herself:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v53lmd5URQQ

Starting with the confusion, Gaga relied on trademark law and its reliance on the famed tests which essentially boil down to the “moron in a hurry” scenario. The court ruled that consumers and fans of Gaga would be susceptible to confusion between Gaga and Goo Goo and thus the latter should not be permitted .

Anyone with half a brain would conclude that this is a clear admission from Gaga that her fans are clearly idiots but as Mike Masnick at Techdirt put it:

Unfortunately, Lady Gaga doesn’t have a sense of humor about the situation and it appears that neither do the UK courts.

Michael Action Smith of Mind Candy puts it fairly bluntly:

“It’s pretty obvious that kids will be able to tell the difference between the two characters.” I can certainly tell the difference, but Lady Gaga and the courts couldn’t

The shame is that millions of kids fell in love with Lady Goo Goo’s debut single on YouTube and now won’t be able to enjoy her musical exploits. It was all done in the name of fun and we would have thought that Lady Gaga could have seen the humor behind this parody.

This leads us nicely into the second aspect of the ruling, which is that parody works are not strictly legal in the UK, where the lawsuit was filed.

The importance of this aspect? Well, in the US, parody works are considered legally distinct from the original material and as a result, do not require prior approval from the copyright holder. This is not the case in the UK, which has no laws regarding parody works. The result is that Gaga was legally able to sue over a parody featuring an animated baby and some Eurotrash music.

Why is this a concern for animators and studios? Because animation has relied on parody and making fun of things since almost the day it was invented! Imagine if all the classic Warner Bros. shorts couldn’t have parodied the political and entertainment figures of the day? Imagine if the Simpsons couldn’t send up films like Citizen Cane? Imagine if Weird Al Yankovic couldn’t release a video to go with his parody of a song? (Side note, Al had is own run-in with Lady Gaga but because he’s in the US, he could release his single anyway).

Our ability to create would be seriously hindered wouldn’t it? The world would be a much more serious place in the absence of all this comedy and poking of fun.

Animation has delighted in being one of the prime candidates when it comes to sources of parody. Nevertheless, this lawsuit simply proves that you have to be on your toes when it comes to this kind of thing, because as bad of a control freak as it makes Lady Gaga look (and all the increased attention the lawsuit has garnered as a result), it ultimately forces a studio to write off an investment it made and to swallow the costs of the project with no hope of getting them back.

Small studios and animators cannot be expected to be effective economic units if they face the prospects of lawsuits like this. There is no reason why Lady Goo Goo had to be yanked in the UK, the decision hurts everyone, including Gaga herself.

POLL: Should File-Sharing Be Considered “Free Speech”?

Despite the humour of the FOX censor, this post has little if anything to do with what it commonly called ‘broadacst standards’ in use today. Nope, it refers to censorship outside of the studio, in this case, by the government, and no, I’m not talking about those naughty cartoons from Japan that have lead to charges for some people either.

The issue is that the entertainment lobby (read: the MPAA) really wants to pass a law called PROTECT IP. Now they claim that this law will give them and the government the legal firepower to stamp out “piracy” or unauthorised file-sharing. However there’s a problem.

That problem is that there are no due process clauses. In fact, the government can simply confiscate a website based on accusation alone, no proof required!

Scary thoughts, no?

Anyway, yesterday, an analyst from Disney by the name of Anthony Accardo wrote on the Harvard Business Review website that granting the government the authority to confiscate websites for file sharing would not run counter to the free speech clause in the constitution. In other words, content owners should be allowed to control how you see and view content because they said so.

I recommend you read Mike Masnick’s response on Techdirt for a good deconstruction/analysis of Accardo’s arguments.

My point is that, as an animator or other artistic type, do you think that this proposed law would cross the line when it comes to censorship? I mean, it’s one thing to use legal steps and the courts to remove your content from places you don’t want it to be but isn’t it quite another to just blithely remove not just the content but also the hosting site itself based solely on accusation rather than evidence?

Please answer the poll below or share your thoughts in the comments.

[poll id="2"]

A Sharp Reminder of How Animation Is Perceived In Some Quarters

On Friday, Tim Cushing over at Techdirt posted a piece that discussed another article by Jeffrey A. Tucker in which he discussed Disney’s Tangled and the political allegories of the film. With me so far? OK. One facet that Jeffrey touched on was how ideas/stories can be, in his words, turned into 2.0 versions, that is to say, be remixed and improve upon the original.

Both are great articles and I encourage you to read them both, but it was in the Techdirt article’s comments where a flame war seemed to break out. Now I do not condone flaming or trolling, but sometimes it brings out the true nature in folks, poking the beast as it were.

Anyway, reading down the comments, I came across one that epitomises that particularly nasty attitude that seems to linger around animation sometimes:

What kind of grown man calls watching children’s Disney movies a “pleasure”? Seriously, do you have the intellectual capacity and interests of an 8 year old girl?

It refers to Disney, but then they are only one of the many that the comment could apply to.

There are eejits everywhere and, much like the guy who called me an asshole on Friday after I apologised for taking his parking space, it says more about who its coming from than who it’d directed at.

Does it really matter that a grown man finds watching Disney movies a pleasure? Why should you even care? They’re good films and being the free society that we live in, can’t anyone enjoy them? How about the way such a statement insults all the fine people who worked on such a film, do they have the same, limited capacity?

It’s disheartening to be reminded that people like that exist. Sadly, the very nature and behind-the-scenes nature of animation leads to that kind of attitude because some people are incapable of separating what they see on screen from how things are actually created. Well, that and the fact that they believe that something needs to be ‘grown-up’ in order to be considered entertainment.