ABBA goes bananas

I’m an enthusiastic defender of author’s rights, including copyright, and I have no patience with excuses for piracy. At the same time, I’m also an enthusiastic fan of Creative Commons (a type of copyright licensing, not a rejection of copyright) and of legitimate fair use.

Korean pop performer PSY, for example, was smart not to complain about parodies of his international hit “Gangnam Style” (I rather like the version more prominently featuring Hyuna). Without those parodies, the song would never have became the huge hit it was.

Unfortunately, the folks licensing works by the popular Swedish pop group ABBA haven’t caught on to this and have on at least one occasional reflexively objected to even a benign use of their song, specifically in the case of a popular video promoting pet adoptions from the SPCA Animal Shelter in Wake County North Carolina that was based on Abba’s “Take a Chance on Me.” Shot for free by POV Productions of Raleigh, and featuring 60 shelter volunteers, it became very popular, which drew the attention of ABBA’s legal people. (This Charlotte Observer article from February offers more details.)

The original video is still up on YouTube, sans music, here:


In contrast, here’s a “Gangnam Style” music video made to encourage aid for impoverished children in Cambodia which doesn’t seem to have prompted any objections from PSY:


(Incidentally, I’ve sometimes encountered the assertion that copyright holders legally must defend their copyrights in order to protect them. I’m not an attorney, but I’m pretty sure that’s true only of trademarks and not of copyrights. Unfortunately the two are often confused, as when people mistakenly speak of “copyrighting” a brand name.)

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