Green Day Wins Graffiti Suit

A U.S. District Court judge in California has sided with Green Day in an intellectual property rights case filed against the band by a graffiti artist.

Derek Seltzer filed suit against the band in March 2010 alleging Green Day used his “Scream Icon” image in a video backdrop during the band’s 2009 tour without “permission, authority, or consent.”

Seltzer also charged that in using the image, the band had infringed upon his copyright, violated the Lanham Act and engaged in unfair business practices.

The band countered that its set designer Richard Staub had used the image to create something entirely new for their video backdrop and Judge Philip Gutierrez apparently agreed.

“In this case, the court agrees with defendants that the video backdrop … is transformative,” he wrote. “The different visual elements Staub added, including graffiti, a brick backdrop, and (especially) the large red cross over the image … add something new, with a further purpose or different character” than Seltzer’s original work.

“Moreover, in complaining about how defendants used ‘Scream Icon,’ plaintiff effectively concedes that defendants’ use was transformative,” Gutierrez added.

The judge also quashed Seltzer’s claims of Lanham Act violations and unfair business practices.