Metallica, those icons of RAWK, have unleashed some brand new merch in support of their recent club tour. That merch, though, struck one reader as looking a tad too similar to his own artwork, which, coincidentally, he had submitted to Metallica through its merch agent, Tinman, for potential, compensated use. They apparently liked the artwork to a certain extent, but not enough to engage the artist, so they had someone else “interpret” the artist’s submission. Recall that one of an artist’s exclusive rights is the right to create “derivative” works, and to stop others from using your artwork as a basis for another work without your permission. But, the line delineating derivative works can be tough to draw with certainty.
Nowadays, revenues from merch are one of the primary sources of income for many rock ‘n’ rollers, and the artwork may drive sales as much or more than the band’s name. Is the below “interpretation” a fair and independent creation, or one where the “interpreting” designer sought and destroyed the original artist’s rights?
Below left is the artist’s original work, below right is the artwork used by Metallica.