Infringement – Gangnam Style

In Insights, Uncategorized

24 June, 2013

In our line of business we deal with protection of intellectual property, ranging from purely technical issues to art. Sometimes you come across matters which cater for a more, err, acquired taste….

A couple of years ago the Danish political party the Conservatives used the tunes to the song “Afrika” written by the Danish singer and composer Nanna Lüders. The party wrote their own lyrics and made an artistically very doubtful performance at their annual convention. Their fellow party in Government at the time, Venstre, equally used a song called “Sunshine Reggae” by Laid Back. Venstre actually did the right thing and asked the owners of the song for permission. And got a no. And still used it. Both political parties had to pay heftily, Venstre especially as they had been in (very) bad faith.

Seen from the chair of an IP-advisor this is noticeable as these infringements are made by the very members of Parliament who pass the laws on protection of rights. One of the active vocal performers was the appointed Minister for Cultural Affairs…

It is ever more bizarre to see a head over heels repetition. Recently four mayors from four municipalities on the Danish island of Funen decided to promote their region in order to attract business. This was done by adding new lyrics to the K-pop hit “Gangnam Style” and also using bits of the actual hit too. And by the mayors dancing “Gangnam Style.”The result was a bizarre music video which did get enormous viral attention. In this respect they achieved their goal. Although this writer has to remind himself that even bad publicity is still publicity. It also got the attention of Universal Music, owner of the rights to the original hit and the recording.

Today it is hard to find the video as Universal Music has requested its removal from channels such as Youtube. It is still available here: though with the infringing bits replaced by enthusiastic applause. See it and enjoy. Or cringe – and please bear in mind that these people were elected not for their dancing and singing skills.

On a more serious note there is little doubt that this is an outright infringement. And there is little doubt that there will have to be compensation paid. Infringements like this happen on a daily basis but of course it should call for worrying attention when the politicians or even MPs commit them. But after all, to err is Human.

At Awapatent we still have deep faith in humanity, ingenuity and the arts. If only humanity would check with its IP-advisor before becoming too creative.

Thorbjørn Swanstrøm, Trademark and Design Attorney, Attorney at Law, Partner

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