Today we hit an all new high in the battle of Big Inc. against the small Artists™ when LEGO System A/S filed a large set of complaints against LEGO Artists™ small and big on RedBubble using the second half of the Millennium Act to enforce their powers and have the small art and craft work removed with the stroke of a legal letter on claimed ownership. Yes, you read that right, ownership of the artistic photo they took featuring LEGO in an artistic shoot.
A new high (or is it low) in the battle against Artistic Creativity because it was not George Lucas going after his iconic Stormtrooper Helmets or Darth Vader silhouettes like we have seen in the past to “protect” their merchandise market, nor Disney protecting Mickey from any mischief, but the Awesome LEGO company itself who is going after any photo using LEGO people or objects in it. So far simple bricks, age old pirates and genuine minifig series outside the licensed subsets of Disney, StarWars or Marvel have been reported as being taken down by LEGO System A/S as they are the claimed owner of the intellectual property.
Maybe with the acquisition of Lucasfilm by Disney the LEGO Group took over the legal department from George instead ?
It is an interesting (and scary) development to see the European company that inspires creativity and imagination going single minded after a relatively large group of its AFOL community, hiding behind the powers of Big Inc. and DMCA to break down the creative movement of Toy Photography and try to put a stop to sharing our work.
This is not about protecting the exact replica merchandise market of iconic symbols in mass consumer goods (for example the LEGO logo, the Stormtrooper Helmet, The Statue of Liberty, …) but killing the creative use of an inspiring role model brand.
It is as if Campbell’s (the soup company) would claim intellectual ownership of Andy Warhols painting and have it confiscated because he used a soon to be iconic soup can.
Today it is not clear if LEGO Systems A/S is just dipping its feet in the legal rumble of fan art with some overeager legal team that got inspired by George in the ramp up to The Lego Movie II or is getting its chest wet to go all in and will soon go after Flickr and other websites where LEGOgraphy is being shared and claim back all their bricks. Imagine.
In the meantime, if your work have been taken down on any site, don’t hesitate to share your legal notice take down letter and tag it with #
legodoesalucasltd or let us know in the comments below.
All we ask is that their should be fair play.
To be continued …
* The original art work in the header is owned by the LEGO group and created by the artist Jung Von Matt for the minimalistic Imagine series. It has been selected for its journalistic relevance as it is unclear if LEGO claims the intellectual property on all turtles or just the Ninja ones.