In the world of audio-video works, it can be difficult to show the substantial similarity between an author’s original work and somebody else’s knock-off. This is due to the large number of variable and design elements in such works, and the mostly lawful ability of someone to create an homage or ‘inspired-by’ sort of piece that apes a prior piece’s style.
Below is a link to a YTWWN reader’s original work, which lampoon’s the layperson’s lack of hockey knowledge, and includes creative and quirky hand-drawn animation adds. There is also a link to a Luminosity ad that had the author of the first video scratching his head. It is not yet known if little white spiky jagged animated streaks shot forward from his head as he did so. Is the second piece an homage to the first? A rip? To what extent is there a difference?
Last fall I was working at a design studio in Seattle called Digital Kitchen and was able to work on a personal project. For those who know me well, or even briefly, know that I am a diehard Canadian-born hockey fan (Canucks) living in the US. I decided to use this as the subject matter and wanted to get the opinions of some of my fellow American creatives on the sport of hockey, which they may or may not know anything about. I combined that with a simple cell animation style that I had yet to really experiment with.
The project turned out great and I had a lot of fun doing it. It wasn’t a style that I invented or even advanced in anyway, but rather a simplified version of some other really magnificent work.
Then last week I got a few emails and messages from design friends saying that they had seen a commercial on TV that looked exactly like my Hockey 101 video and if I had done it? I hadn’t, but still checked out the link I was being sent and sure enough it was an almost shot for shot remake with different content animations and people. It was the same simple white drawing overtop of footage as people answer questions or expressed thoughts and the imagry appeared. As opposed to my video where I hand drew each animation, theirs was a cheaper knockoff with looping animations that didn’t have the same effect. I didn’t know whether to be flattered or angry.
My animation had generated me no profit, nor was I interested in it doing so. I would have been thrilled to have been contacted by Lumosity or whoever was producing the content to create something similar to my previous video and be able to benefit that way. Instead someone basically cookie cut my concept, framing, execution, and animation without any reference to myself and generated a ton of views and is probably profiting from online and broadcast spots.
I may be wrong and just need to toughen up, but I would love to get a few more perspectives or some advice on how/if I should proceed in any way.