Remember Kind of Bloop, the chiptune tribute to Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue that I produced? I went out of my way to make sure the entire project was above board, licensing all the cover songs from Miles Davis’s publisher and giving the total profits from the Kickstarter fundraiser to the five musicians that participated.
But there was one thing I never thought would be an issue: the cover art.
He got screwed by dick Jay Maisel, the insanely rich photographer of the original album’s cover art. Baio had to settle for $32,500, a sum that Maisel probably won’t even notice.
It breaks my heart that a project I did for fun, on the side, and out of pure love and dedication to the source material ended up costing me so much — emotionally and financially. For me, the chilling effect is palpably real. I’ve felt irrationally skittish about publishing almost anything since this happened. But the right to discuss the case publicly was one concession I demanded, and I felt obligated to use it. I wish more people did the same — maybe we wouldn’t all feel so alone.
Baio is yet another victim of the United States’ dysfunctional legal procedures surrounding intellectual-property laws, which ensure that nearly any barely-credible threat can extract a settlement from its target, even if it would never hold up in court, since only the extremely rich can afford to actually defend themselves in court.