Lady Googoo Gone Gone After Lady Gaga Gets Injunction Against Parody

from the Gaga goes Googoo dept

Lady Gaga is notoriously protective of her image. So much so, that it often seems that, to her, copyright is not about her music but her image. This attitude has led her to go on the offensive over random things that she (or her people) see as attacks on her image or brand — such as ice cream. Now, she has taken to task parodies of her songs. While parody is protected in the US under fair use laws, the same cannot be said about the UK.

According to a Guardian report, Lady Gaga has won an injunction against Moshi Monsters developers, Mind Candy, over a parody character name ‘Lady Googoo’. Lady Googoo is one of many parody characters in Moshi Monsters. Mind Candy had planned to build upon this character and had gone as far as creating animated music videos parodying songs by Lady Gaga (I have embedded one below for those feeling adventurous and/or masochistic). Unfortunately, Lady Gaga doesn’t have a sense of humor about the situation and it appears that neither do the UK courts.

Justice Vos has ruled that Mind Candy cannot play or offer for sale any Lady Googoo songs. However he did rule that the character, Lady Googoo, herself is safe to be included in the game as long as it is not associated with any of the songs.

Lady Gaga stated that this move was to protect her image as people may be confused and think that these parody songs and videos have an official connection to her. In response, Michael Action Smith, Mind Candy’s founder, said, “It’s pretty obvious that kids will be able to tell the difference between the two characters.” I can certainly tell the difference, but Lady Gaga and the courts couldn’t.

What is really troubling about this is that it exemplifies what damage can be done when fair use is limited. As UK copyright law is currently written, parody is not legal and many artists are limited because of it. As Alastair Shaw, counsel at law firm Hogan Lovells said:

Tribute bands and parody songs have been around for years but what this case shows is the potential power of registered trademark law to put a stop to some of their activities.

This may be particularly important for tribute acts or characters with names which are similar to the original acts, as they frequently are, who want to comercialise a track parodying a well-known song.

Without parody protection in copyright law, artists like Weird Al would have never become successful. Based on proposed changes to UK copyright laws, this type of parody could be protected in the future. Until the government of the UK takes action, more artists and companies will be harmed through lawsuits such as this. Not only will artists be harmed, but consumers and fans will be as well. As Smith says:

The shame is that millions of kids fell in love with Lady Goo Goo’s debut single on YouTube and now won’t be able to enjoy her musical exploits. It was all done in the name of fun and we would have thought that Lady Gaga could have seen the humor behind this parody.

So much for humor when faced against copyright laws.

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Companies: mind candy

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Comments on “Lady Googoo Gone Gone After Lady Gaga Gets Injunction Against Parody”

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46 Comments
Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: Sigh

Yes he did… and the point was he wouldn’t make the video or include the song on his latest album without permission. Even if (as an American) he could easily claim parody rights, he does not and will not use songs without the artist permission.

As for Gaga’s sense of entitlement, well, she is entitled to it unless she gets legally slapped down. You may not like it, you may not like the way she manifests it, but it’s legal and up front.

kirilliansays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Sigh

Weird Al has stated more than once that he is aware of parody laws and that he COULD create his parodies without permission, if he so chose. He has also stated that his asking for permission is a professional courtesy that he is extending to people. He is not required to extend these courtesies and he has pointed out that he knows this fact, but he chooses to do so anyway.

kirilliansays:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re: Re: Re: Re: Sigh

Edit: Also, a note…IIRC, I believe he had already made his parody BEFORE asking Lady Gaga for permission. In fact, Lady Gaga liked the parody. It was her manager that shot it down without even letting her know that Weird Al had made such a request. It wasn’t until Weird Al actually met her in person and they talked that Lady Gaga even found out about the parody at all.

Anyway, TL;DR; Weird Al is aware of his right to be able to parody and has explicitly stated so before, but chooses not to exercise that right.

John Fendersonsays:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Sigh

You’re wrong.

He approached Lady Gaga (the company, not the individual) with the idea of a parody. He presented them with the parody lyrics, but they made the unusual demand to hear the song before deciding to give permission or not. He said on his blog that this is something he does not do, because of the costs involved in producing the song are such that he wants to be sure he can use it before shelling out the bucks.

He made an exception in this case, and produced the song. After Team Gaga heard it, they declined to give permission. This pissed him off pretty royally, so he hedged a tiny bit on his “I always get permission” rule and released the song online only. After the ensuing bad press for Lady Gaga, they changed their mind and gave permission.

Re: Re: Re: Re: Sigh

There’s a bit more to it than that. In his effort to get permission, he was told he had to actually go and record the song first (not just write it, but go through all the effort of making the recording). It was only then that he was told “no” (by her manager, although he didn’t know it at the time). He posted the song on YouTube as a sort of protest of having to waste his time recording the song before being denied.

From the horse’s mouth: http://alyankovic.wordpress.com/the-gaga-saga/

He did something similar with “You’re Pitiful” (parody of James Blunt’s “You’re Beautiful” — although, in that case, the artist had given permission, and it was the publisher that told Al no, so his internet release was to spite the label, not the artist. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/You're_Pitiful

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: Isn't a persona a scarce good?

Image scarcity? What scarcity, her “music” – her voice specifically are far more hard to replicate than simply dressing like a clown and making a spectacle. Any shameless, self-absorbed narcisist with few inhibitions can pull that off.

The sad thing about it is she really has a good voice but rarely uses it to its potential, and she is an accomplished pianist but wastes that talent as well. Sadly, she has chosen to market herself as performance art instead of creating music as art.

The Devil's Coachmansays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: Isn't a persona a scarce good?

She has a “really beautiful voice”, does she? Then what happened? She gargled with Drano? Smoked ten thousand Cohibas down to the stump and inhaled them all? Has a severe case or oral thrush? Then why does her “beautiful voice” cause blood to shoot out of my ears? Also, she looks like a trans-sexual truck driver, badly dragged-up.

The Devil's Coachmansays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: Isn't a persona a scarce good?

She has a “really beautiful voice”, does she? Then what happened? She gargled with Drano? Smoked ten thousand Cohibas down to the stump and inhaled them all? Has a severe case or oral thrush? Then why does her “beautiful voice” cause blood to shoot out of my ears? Also, she looks like a trans-sexual truck driver, badly dragged-up.

Anonymoussays:

I dont really see the problem

whats the problem here? the “parody” isn’t even a parody. its a replication. They are not mocking anything.

The reason parodies are allowed is to prevent stifling of free speech, enabling people to mock sources.

But this video does not mock anything at all. You could argue its a tribute, but by no stretch of the imagination is it a parody.

Lao Zee Phuksays:

So she says her fans are idiots

“Lady Gaga stated that this move was to protect her image as people may be confused […]”

So she’s basically telling us that her fans are idiots who can’t tell the two apart.

She clearly has a particularly low opinion of her own fans. I’d feel pretty insulted if I were one.

Mike42says:

History...

Yes, of course parody is legal in the US and not in the UK. Who do you think the founding fathers were making fun of in the newspapers? And who do you think wanted it stamped out?

At this point, I think the Republicans would stamp out parody in the US if they could. They’re really easy targets, and have lost elections with parody playing a big part. (Bob Dole and Palin jump to mind.) On the other side, the Democrats would just stamp out anything that hurt anyone’s feelings.

MikeVxsays:

As the Streisand effect kicks in...

Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta really needs to figure out the modern internet. It is no longer possible for anyone to do stupid and not have it broadcast world-wide. This sort of dick move (amusing thought given one accusation leveled at her) is doing far more damage to her reputation than any satire/parody/sendup/etc could ever do. I had no particular opinion of her before, now I have an active dislike. Way to sell your music, Stef.

And, yes, using her given name means what it does when a parent uses it to a kid, “ya screwed up”.

wenhaversays:

My kids can tell the difference

My 6 and 7 year old know that Lady Googoo has nothing to do with Lady Gaga. I know, because I asked them. My 6 year old said, upon learning that Lady Gaga was upset about the parody “Why, is it because she [Lady Googoo] is cuter than she is?”.

My 7 year old is concerned about the Moshi Monsters “Justin Beaver” character’s future.

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