In February 2010, I was contacted by attorneys representing famed New York photographer Jay Maisel, the photographer who shot the original photo of Miles Davis used for the cover of Kind of Blue.
In their demand letter, they alleged that I was infringing on Maisel’s copyright by using the illustration on the album and elsewhere, as well as using the original cover in a “thank you” video I made for the album’s release. In compensation, they were seeking “either statutory damages up to $150,000 for each infringement at the jury’s discretion and reasonable attorneys fees or actual damages and all profits attributed to the unlicensed use of his photograph, and $25,000 for Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) violations.”
After seven months of legal wrangling, we reached a settlement. Last September, I paid Maisel a sum of $32,500 and I’m unable to use the artwork again. (On the plus side, if you have a copy, it’s now a collector’s item!) I’m not exactly thrilled with this outcome, but I’m relieved it’s over.” —
Though I think Waxy was in the right, his mistake was two fold. First, not incorporating his private endeavor; thus shifting the risk from himself to an entity that can better manage liability and is limited to its own funds.
Two, claiming satire for his approach. Though the album was produced with legitimate intent, it fits the criteria of being a parody which lends itself to satire. His novel approach to re-interpreting Mikes Davis’ classic via 8bit audio extends to the cover as well.
Of course I don’t know the details so all of the above is supposition.