Green Day Win Court Case Over Street Artist's 'Scream Icon' Image Use At Concert

A US court has ruled that rock band Green Day are not liable for using a street artist's work in the concerts visuals for their song 'East Jesus Nowhere' during 2009. Dereck Seltzer tried to sue the group for using his 'Scream Icon' piece without his permission.

Watch A 2009 Green Day Performance Of 'East Jesus Nowhere':

The bold, black and white artwork features the cartoon-like image of a woman screaming in a strikingly aggressive design style. Seltzer had spread the image around in the form of posters, stickers and pencils after its 2003 creation. Green Day's gig set designer, Richard Staub, first saw the print on a Sunset Boulevard wall in Los Angeles, took a photograph and overlaid red Green Day insignia when it was used as part of the video played behind the band whilst they performed live.

Green Day

In defence of his right to the image, Seltzer claimed that he had copyrighted his work and had never been asked if it could be used or not. However, Green Day claim that the image was sourced form a responsible company and were unaware that any copywright laws had been flouted. An appeals court in the USA have decided that seeing as Green Day didn't use the image to make a profit, e.g. via merchandise, Straub's use of the picture consisted of "fair use."

Green Day
Green Day Performing Live

According to The Guardian, the artist himself admitted that the "video had not diminished the value of his prints." Furthermore, the band's adaptation of Seltzer's art had been found to be "transformative and not overly commercial." The artist claims that to settle the case out of court, he had been offered concert tickets by the band. Judge Diarmuid O'Scannlain ruled that although the image wasn't drastically altered, the context in which it was used had altered the meaning: "Regardless of the meaning of the original, it clearly says nothing about religion," O'Scannlain wrote. "[This] Scream Icon conveys new information, new aesthetics, new insights and understandings that are plainly distinct from those of the original piece."

Green Day
The 'American Idiot' Rockers Didn't Have Seltzer's Permission To Use His Artwork.

However, the judge did note that Seltzer's concern over his work's use had not been "objectively unreasonable" and ruled that he would not have to pay the hefty solicitor's fees of $201,000 (£130,000) that Green Day's defence wanted. Neither party has publically commented on the matter.

Green Day's latest trio of albums ¡Uno!, ¡Dos! and ¡Tre!, are out now and a live DVD will be released on 26th August.


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