On October 25th the Czech Pirates filed an appeal against a preliminary injunction issued by the Municipal Court in Prague. Few days before the election the Pirates were ordered, with immediate effect, to remove their electoral spot Vypustime kaprum rybnik! (We'll drain the pond of the big fish). According to the Pirates, the decision impermissibly extends the copyright under the guise of protecting the reputation of a legal person .
The appeal will be decided by the High Court in Prague and the Pirate Party asked the presiding judge to raise bail for the plaintiff LEGO, that will be used to pay damages for Pirates in case the court cancels the preliminary injunction.
“That is exactly the kind of action, against which pirates are fighting. We do not like limiting artistic creation or restrictions on human freedoms under the guise of copyright protection, or under a similar pretext of protecting the reputation of a legal person,” said the Pirates chairman Ivan Bartos. “The clip with LEGO figures was created by our fan as his artistic work. Is it really true, that an artist may not use a figure for his own story, until it is approved in the instructions of the LEGO marketing department?” asks the chairman.
According to the Pirates, such a decision would block even the use of characters, whose copyright has already expired: “If you use a classic figure, you could be sued by the producer even though the copyright to the figure has expired. The producer simply claims that your creation interferes with his reputation and that he does not agree with it. But the copyright law limitations also apply to the LEGO company. Therefore, we consider the decision of the first instance court as factually incorrect,” adds vice-chairman Jakub Michalek, emphasizing that in this case it was not a copyright infringement because an interpretation of publicly exhibited works by someone's own creation is explicitly permited by the copyright law.
This is not the first time that LEGO has requested the removal of an artistic work because somebody used its figures. Similarly LEGO once tried to intimidate a Polish artist Zbigniew Libera, who created a LEGO model concentration camp and his work was exhibited in the Warsaw gallery. In that particular case, LEGO was forced to withdraw its threats because of the opposition of the public. “We do not want the private companies telling us how to create, what our kids should play with or how we should dress based on their alleged rights. Such situations must not happen,” says Ivan Bartos.
The Pirate clip Vypustime kaprum rybnik! was created this August for the regional elections campaign. The fish pond symbolizes the current corruption environment where bribery thrives. Pirates used this parallel to introduce their program about an open state, which is based on an open and transparent management of public institutions' funding.
However, the clip will probably continue to live on its own on Youtube, on the profiles of other users than the Czech Pirate Party, as well as on the Pirate Bay (the Pirates' mirror at tpb.pirati.cz).