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Issues Over Uncredited Appropriation Raised Over Charlotte Gainsbourg and Beck Music Video

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We don’t get to talk about something we love often enough: music videos. But today’s the day. Last week, you may have caught the release of a video for a collaboration between musicians Charlotte Gainsbourg and Beck, directed by one of our favorites, Keith Schofield (here’s his much better director’s cut). We enjoyed the heck out of it, not having any clue what any of it was about and enjoying it all the more because of we didn’t get it. As we regularly do, we checked in over at Antville, the popular music video forum, to read any comments about it. Turns out there were dozens upon dozens. And the issue wasn’t over whether or not the video was any good, or talking about how something was shot, but instead over intellectual property. Turns out the video does make sense if you’re familiar with particularly odd photos that have made their way around the internet. From a man in a SpongeBob costume running from the police to a skateboard resting each of its wheels on hamburgers, each are minor internet memes and were recreated by Schofield for the video. The latter example became one of the main focal points of the Antville discussion, given that the original source material came from photographer/artist William Hundley who posted to Flickr “Someone is using my ideas…look familiar?” And it wasn’t just that one image of Hundley’s that were recreated without permission — other copies of different pieces of his work appear throughout. As follows, one can guess that possibly a large number of the shots used in the video were recreating without searching for the original creators. Schofield recently told Boards that the concept came from his holding on to random images he’d stumbled across on sites like FFFFfound:

“I basically have this huge folder of all these found photos and when I get a song in, I’ll play the track and I’ll look through these pictures and see if any thing sticks,” he says. “I’ll be reading something randomly and see a funny picture and throw it in the folder. The whole thing with found photos is that they’re funny because there’s no context to them. You look at a funny picture and go, ‘what’s the scene about?’ And you draw your own conclusions.”

The discussion on Antville goes into a million different directions, arguing that Schofield is a thief, that he shouldn’t be blamed because he thought they were completely random images, or that Hundley should just be happy for the uncredited exposure, and lots in between. In the end, we have to say that, like with what’s recently gone on with with Shepard Fairey, no matter how much you enjoy a work of appropriation, there’s still a lot of discomfort in there when one artist is so directly “borrowing” from another.

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