Eye on the Banana


The Velvet Underground and the Andy Warhol Foundation have reached a very anti-climactic conclusion to their legal rivalry for Andy Warhol’s famous banana graphic.

The story held a great deal of promise for art/law geeks like myself who enjoyed its many complications. However the case has been dismissed following an announcement by the AWF that they have reached  “a confidential settlement” with the Velvets.

There are so many questions that remain unanswered:
Who owned the copyright? MGM? the AWF? The Velvet Underground?
Who owns the trademark?
What did the settlement entail? i.e.: who sold or licensed what rights to whom?
I’m guessing we will hear more soon enough, I mean, how confidential can it be? It’s about IP for godssake.

Maybe it’s MGM’s Banana?

Everybody Has a Sticker on This Banana! Graphic by Cat Weaver :)

Following up on the Velvet Underground v The Andy Warhol Foundation story, Hollywood Reporter speculates similarly to The Art Machine that the famed fruit’s copyright may belong to the record label.

Hollywood Reporters’s Eriq Gardner, wondering why the Velvet Underground hasn’t used a more fail-proof strategy of claiming the copyright for themselves (instead of opting to claim trademark protection on an image in the public domain) says,

“According to the facts in record, MGM Records paid both the band and Warhol $3,000 to furnish the image for use on the 1967 album cover. If the record label paid the money as a work-for-hire agreement, the true “author” of the image, under the law, would be the record label. We asked Universal Music Group, the seeming successor to MGM Records, to comment, but so far, we haven’t heard anything.”

It is an interesting speculation and one we may wonder about: is MGM silently planning its own little coup? And, if so, was it inspired by the Velvet’s bold but transparent strategies, or by press speculation about the Warhol graphic being a “work for hire?”

Or, maybe MGM has secret plans prompted by questions from sites like Hollywood Reporter asking them questions about the graphic? How meta would that be?

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