Roy Lichtenstein's estate decides they don't own the rights to everything he ripped off, after all

Roy Lichetenstein's estate has seen the light. After threatening copyright litigation against an indie band whose CD cover remixed the same comic book panel that the pop artist made famous, the estate has withdrawn the threat and no longer claims to own the rights to everything that rips off the same stuff that Lichtenstein copied. Elsinore's Ryan Groff sez,

Shelley Lee sent us an email this morning letting us know that the estate is fine with us using our image and requests a liner note that says:

Cover Painting by Brittany Pyle (an homage to Roy Lichtenstein's Kiss V)

This, of course, is what we initially offered to do before finding out our artist did NOT paint it as an homage, but as an appropriation of the graphic novel image. And Ms. Lee's response to this offer was "It's not an homage. It's a copyright violation." We don't know exactly what she saw or read, but she included a P.S. that said:

"For your information, someone who was familiar with your album cover notified us."

We're not quite sure what they would've notified her of, but all it boils down to is that WE WON!

Lichtenstein's Estate has Changed Its Mind!!!


  1. Wait, what? It’s a cheap out, so good for them, but it’s not a win. It wasn’t a copy of Lichtenstein, it was a copy of what he copied.

    I hope they actually put “The Litch. estate graciously let us copy the same thing that Roy copied, as long as we claimed it was an homage to the dead guy who pays their bills.”

    1. I was thinking something similar, that they should go ahead and put in the liner note, then under it tell the entire story, explaining that they agreed to put in the liner note in the spirit of peace, or some such.

      Anyway, glad the dobermans backed off.

  2. This is great, thanks for following up.

    Has anyone considered whether Lichtenstein would have been able to produce his artwork in today’s copyright crazy climate? Would Warhol have been able to use the Campbell’s Soup logo? The entire Pop Art movement was appropriation and remix, so it’s kind of ironic that Lichtenstein’s estate would be so litigious.

    Can someone tell me if, like the patent system, copyright law was originally created to spur creativity. Because the primary purpose now seems to be increasing the riches of already wealthy heirs and corporations.

    1. You would have to google the details as I can’t recall it all right now, but the guy who designed the Brillo Box, who was a abstract expressionist painter in his spare time, stumbled across Warhol’s Brillo Boxes in the early 60s. Pissed off, he tried to sue or at least mulled it over. However the reality of the life of a commercial artist is that he didn’t own the design, Brillo did, and they were pretty happy with the free advertising.

    2. The purpose of copyright was to protect publishers. In the case of Berne Convention-style copyright, the publisher in question was also the author, but I digress.

  3. WIN. Hurray for the Inter-tubes!

    Nice to see that BB could help bring enough attention to this to get them to change their position.

  4. “We’re not quite sure what they would’ve notified her of[…]”

    – How about the phony copyright infringement that would bring an email from the estate, then an outcry from a 600.000 RSS-abonnements Blog (aka ‘publicity’)? How else did the Lichtenstein estate get to know a CD cover before it went to print?

  5. Maybe they should agree to include that requested liner note if all future reproductions of that Lichtenstein state “based on an homage to Elsinore’s cover art”.

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