Immediately following a Green Day concert in LA last August, local artist Dereck Seltzer began receiving calls and emails, alerting him that his ‘Scream Icon’ art was being used as the backdrop to the show. Seltzer was surprised, since he had no previous contact with the band. Scream Icon was copyrighted by Seltzer in 2003. When he approached the band, complaining that they had used the art without regard for the registered copyright, they offered him concert tickets in settlement. Green Day continues to use artwork in promotional materials and backdrops.
Seltzer filed a complaint in the Central District of Los Angeles and is suing Green Day for Copyright Infringement, and unfair competition and false designation under Section 43(a) of the Lanham Act. However, Green Day’s attorney, Don Passman claims that “Green Day received Mr. Seltzer’s image from a responsible company and was unaware that there could be any copyright or other issues.”
It’s hard to be too careful about usage of graphics and artwork, and it’s important to know the actual source. Although it may seem harmless, much of it is legitimately copyrighted material. Even more important to be careful when dozens of sold out stadiums will be viewing the art in question.