According to Hollywood Reporter, Google is being sued for copyright infringement because of a picture of Jimi Hendrix. The lawsuit, from the estate of influential rock photographer Jim Marshall (no relation to the recently deceased amp manufacturer of the same name) has arisen because of the use of Marshall's photos of both Hendrix and John Coltrane in a backdrop used to announce the Google Music service when it was launched last year.
What makes the case controversial is that the photographs used to advertise Google Music were not straight reproductions of Marshall's originals. They were appropriated by artist Thierry "Mr. Brainwash" Guetta, whose "appropriation art" exists in a legal grey area. As Hollywood Reporter explains:
"He often takes images he finds, photocopies them, and then makes some alterationssometimes by using bright colors, other times by doing things like piecing together thousands of broken phonographic records onto his image."
Google are also being sued because of their use of huge blow-ups of Guetta's images as part of the advertising campaign for Google Music, something which the Marhsall estate's attorney, Douglas Linde has claimed, represents a willful authorisation of copyright infringement on Google's part:
"[Google] held an invited commercial event that they had the right and ability to supervise, wherein they invited, directed, requested and authorized others, to photograph the Infringing Backdrop, for the purpose of reproducing the images."
Jim Marshall, who died in 2010, was famous for photographing many of rock's most iconic moments. He was the only photographer allowed backstage at The Beatles final concert, photographed Hendrix setting his guitar on fire at Monterey Pop and was the chief photographer at Woodstock.
Whether you agree with the lawsuit, or think that the Marshall estate is out of line, let us know in the comments section.