Sony Rips Off Artists For New Bravia Campaign

They say there’s no new ideas in advertising, but after seeing the latest ripoff routine, where Sony Bravia totally jacked an independent artist team’s work for their new ad, we disagree. They do have one idea. It’s that it’s totally okay to blatantly steal other’s work, repackage it, and get away with it. But we’ve got to wonder, what are these firms thinking? If consumers discover the cut and paste job, isn’t that a pretty negative backwash on the client they’re supposed to be promoting? Or do they figure, hey, it’s just a few thousand internet geeks and artists, they don’t have any money anyways, who cares, let’s snort some more coke off the copying machine glass?

Sony Bastards Ripped Off the Bunny Tsunami Ad [Gizmodo]
(Image: Kozyndan)

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  1. joshhope says:

    this is a common occurence. Companies request samples of artists works and then have their in house design change it enough so it doesn’t seem so blatant. Urban Outfitters did it a few years back to this guy Johnny Cupcakes. It sucks, but what do you expect from soulless money driven machines?

  2. mac-phisto says:

    @joshhope: i expect them to pay statutory damages as specified under the copyright act for a sum of not less than $750 & not more than $30,000 per hijacked bunny. being that bunnies do what they do in this ad (multiply rapidly), we’re just going to draw a random number of infringing bunnies for the court case – 1,702.

  3. LatherRinseRepeat says:

    Well, I don’t think Sony should get 100% of the blame. It’s the ad company that actually did the dirty deed. I’m really surprised.. Being an advertising company, they should be aware of copyright issues. I really hope Kozyndan sues for damages.

  4. Trai_Dep says:

    It’s the ad company. They’re hired for their expertise, including how to steal someone else’s idea then present it as coming from the agency.

    Sony, should, however, make the agency walk the plank or at least stand front and center and take the bullet.

  5. Adam291 says:

    If you ask me, Hokusai should sue Kozyndan for stealing his wave image. Too bad he’s been dead for 200 years.

  6. infinitysnake says:

    Consumers just plain won’t know, and maybe five will care..almost everything at thew top is ripped off a lesser-known talent, from music to t-shirts. There’s nothin g you can really do, and they know it. My drawings were stolen and used in the set design of a mega movie, and I literally had no recourse because I they could bow through my lawyer’s retainer before lunch- if they would even agree to make the effort.

  7. G-Dog says:

    Sad fact is that is that it’s the 300 pound Ophra zombies that matter. control this group, and you control the world.

  8. Annath says:

    We’ll sue you back to the stone age if you pirate 24 songs, but hey it’s alright for us to steal another artists’ work to make money! We’re the good guys after all.

    /sarcasm

  9. DaWezl says:

    Hokusai is in the public domain, so it is not under copyright protection.

    As I said on the linked thread, in regards to this advertisement. If it were just the wave image, I wouldn’t necessarily say that it was a copyright infringement, but adding in the panoramic image, and the fact that the artist was asked to sumbit materials on the job, it’s pretty darn damning.

    Copyright law is very strict. For example, if I were a painter, and I used someone else’s photograph as a reference for a painting (meaning I painted it myself, but used the photo to figure out ‘how things look’, I would be in violation of their copyright. Even if it were not the central image of the painting. In this digital age, when people constantly jump on Google and grab images, the common feeling is that it’s all ‘ok’, but whether or not you THINK it’s ok, the law is very clear that it’s not.

    In this particular instance, the stylization and colors of the bunnies, combined with the way they are in a realistic NYC setting has been directly taken from Kozyden’s panoramic painting. There is no discernable difference in style, layout or colors, or in theme. If the bunnies were realistic to begin with, looked different, or if the setting was different, I could more readily accept “homage” or “parallel development”, but they are the exact same caricatured bunnies in the exact same location.

    I hope the artist involved pursues this further, for I feel he has a legitimate complaint.

  10. Trai_Dep says:

    I see your point, especially if it was in the same medium. I recall a case where an artist was found liable because they were borrowed too heavily from another artist’s composition. In the same medium. Which is fair.

    For me, if the wave CONSISTED of bunnies, instead of going from “surreal psychedelic bunnies in a realistic backdrop” (following an established theme of psychedelic objects in a realistic backdrop theme that the Bravia ads have used since their inception) to a bunny-free wave (then ice flows then sea creature montage), my hackles would be raised further.

    I’d also want to see WHICH pieces were forwarded.

    Surrealist multicolored cute creatures in a realistic backdrop isn’t original enough to stand, IMO. Kozyndan can’t “own” the concept since the motif has been around since the early 20th Century.

    Again, there are too many elements that differ, yet enough to have a slight taint. The best way to settle this is for the agency to hire Kozyndan on a different project. He’s creative, it’s a win-win. Going to court would be a mess.

  11. WraithSama says:

    @Adam291:
    @DaWezl:

    Copyright law covers intellectual property until the owner has been dead for 75 years. The IP of someone 200 years dead has been public domain for 125 years.

    On a side note, if you go to see a symphony orchestra perform, this is the very reason they typically play only music from long-dead composers; it allows them to avoid paying royalties to the composer’s estate.

  12. Consumerist Moderator - ACAMBRAS says:

    @G-Dog:
    ???

  13. WraithSama says:

    I realize this is also kind of neither here nor there, but copyright law can be pretty difficult to enforce.

    For example, did you know the “Happy Birthday Song” is copyrighted? Most people don’t. So is “I’m A Little Teapot”. Even the Chicken Dance isn’t public domain, someone owns it too. Sadly, the owners of these intellectual properties have long since given up trying to collect their due royalties.

    A funny little side note: the old song “Don’t Worry, Be Happy”, to this day, still draws in over six digits per year in royalties to the current owner of the IP.

  14. rg says:

    I love this line “It’s that it’s totally okay to blatantly steal other’s work, repackage it, and get away with it.” How come nobody stood up and yelled foul when Chevy intro’d their HHR? Probably because they knew that the only ones they would sell would be to rental car companies. It’s still a knockoff, a bad one at that.

  15. infinitysnake says:

    @DaWezl: The bunny whale was pretty iconic, too…added to the fact they asked the artist for samples…they owe som eone a paycheck.

  16. infinitysnake says:

    @WraithSama: That’s not entirely true- the obnoxious clappy generic birthday song was hatched because the song’s royalties are steep.

  17. infinitysnake says:

    @rg: Knockoff of what?

  18. lestat730 says:

    Todd Goldman anyone?

    [www.miketyndall.com]

  19. lockdog says:

    @rg: I think that could be because the HHR is supposed to be a “new” version of a ’40s era Chevy Suburban. So they are only ripping themselves off in the design. And if you are talking about the PT Cruiser, I believe Chevy hired Brian Nesbitt (who designed the PT) away from Chrysler specifically for the HHR project. That being said, HHR (heritage high roof) is still a dumb name for a car. But the price, cargo room and mileage all beat the similar PT Cruisers/ Vibes/ Matrixes (Matrices?), etc. Makes it decent for families who don’t want to go the Van/ SUV route and can’t afford a VW or Subaru. Though the low windows and wide pillars make the thing an interesting drive.

  20. IRSistherootofallevil says:

    GM cars are mostly a piece of crap anyway. No amount of advertising will convince me to buy a GM. I’m the type of person that pays more money for a high-quality product.

  21. crackers says:

    I’ve been following this story in various places, and I have to say I’m surprised that so many people throw out comments about Kozyndan vs. Hokusai. First, I’m amazed that more people don’t know that images become public domain, and secondly I’m shocked that people don’t see the difference between:
    - referencing a classic work and giving it a unique spin, i.e. wave froth into bunnies
    - referencing a current, contemporary work and not changing the concept at all, i.e. colorful bunnies swarming New York.

    Seriously? Some of you don’t see the difference there?

  22. Trai_Dep says:

    CCS -

    I see your point, and recognize it. But we’re (well, I’m) talking about ethics vs law. And, for the record, I’m fine with inspiration. Kozyndan’s Hokusai wave underscores the iterative nature of some quite legitimate art. It seems that Kozyndan’s supporters are suggesting that he owns the concept of cute psychedelic critters in a real-world backdrop. Which I don’t agree with.

    It’s just that it’s unclear to me that the Bravia case is so open-and-shut. See above for my points, to save wasted breath. :)

  23. crackers says:

    TRAI_DEP – I TOTALLY agree that Kozyndan don’t own the concept of cute psychedelic critters in a real-world backdrop. And I also agree that many of their supporters are getting awfully bent out of shape about some vague connections. But things get a bit grey for me when it isn’t just any critters, it’s similarly shaped bunnies, in very similar colors, in an identical urban environment. I would have no issue if the critters were, say…frogs, or lady bugs, or squirrels. Or if they swarmed a grocery store or big green fields instead of New York. I just think there are too many parallel elements for this to have been a coincidence. In all honesty, when I first saw the Kozyndan panoramic, I thought it was a story board for the ad (as have others) and that sends up huge red flags for me.

    Oh, and FWIW – in some of the messages from Kozyndan they mention sending that particular bunny panoramic to Passion Pictures prior to production of this ad, which definitely contributes to my reaction here.

    Also FWIW, I feel bad for Sony that they obviously weren’t getting their money’s worth from Fallon/Passion Pictures. Perhaps we’ll see a post on The Consumerist from Sony? ;)

  24. MonkeyMonk says:

    [www.geocities.com]

    Here’s a link to the wave image from the Last Unicorn. It seems pretty obvious that Kozyndan was either ripping this off and just replacing the unicorns with bunnies or they magically had the same idea. Either way this is pretty damning to their case IMO.

    Who owns the copyright on Last Unicorn?

  25. Trai_Dep says:

    I recall writing a paper with an opening line that just floored me. It was SO perfect, powerful, evocative. Then later seeing a film I had seen years previous to writing the paper, where the line was spoken. Clearly, I had unconsciously plagerized it, but it was so far in the mists of time that I didn’t realize I did that. It shocked me how powerful the mind is in latching onto something far after the original source had faded from memory.

    Then there’s the prior art problems of The Last Unicorn.

    Then there’s the differences between the works, expressed in different mediums. And the “inspirations” that the ad agency could have taken – and GOOD ones – but didn’t.

    Then there’s the fact that all the Bravia ads followed a certain motif. Colored balls frenetically bouncing down a San Francisco street (still my fav). Colored jets of paint in a Sovietesque row of buildings. Colored critters on a NY street. I can see the agency stumbling on this latest on their own.

    And all of the excellent counter-arguments made on K’s behalf.

    Fuzzy, huh?

    But the appearance isn’t ideal. There should be some sort of compensation for Kozyndan. He’s good – that’s why I think the best thing to do is to bring him aboard for a project or two. Win/Win.

  26. crackers says:

    TRAI_DEP, I like your points. I’ve had the same experience with my mind latching on to something I’ve seen and regurgitating it later in the guise of my own idea. As a designer, that’s something I’m obligated to notice and avoid – ALL inspirations are thoroughly examined to try and ensure they haven’t snuck through the back door.

    And I would totally agree that the agency could/would have stumbled across the colored critters concept on their own – it’s the next logical step. However, since they REQUESTED pieces from Kozyndan one year ago, and those pieces DID include the bunny panoramic, they couldn’t possibly claim they “stumbled” upon that idea on their own.

    And for the Last Unicorn – yes, there are massive similarities, and perhaps they should be addressed as well. However, my main problem with the Sony ad has never been with the bunny/wave relationship, rather with the overall concept of rainbow bunnies in the city, so I don’t think the two instances conflict. Also – referencing my prior statement – the film wasn’t “The Last Bunny.” ;)