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Velvet Underground Add New Complaint in Warhol Lawsuit

Band says foundation does not have copyright on iconic banana image

February 27, 2012 12:05 PM ET
velvet underground banana
The Velvet Underground & Nico
Verve Records

The Velvet Underground have added a new complaint in their lawsuit against the Andy Warhol Foundation. The band, who claim the foundation has illegally licensed the iconic banana image from the cover of their debut album, The Velvet Underground and Nico, have amended their complaint to backtrack on their contention that the artwork is in the public domain.

The Velvet Underground's lawsuit asserts that while the image itself is in the public domain, it has acquired a "secondary and distinctive meaning" that is almost exclusively associated with the band and their music. As such, the group objects to the Andy Warhol Foundation selling merchandise with the image, with the implication that they are official Velvet Underground products.

The newly amended suit is more aggressive in its attack on the Foundation, insisting that "even if the Banana design has not been in the public domain at all times, the Warhol Foundation can't claim copyright on it." The group and their attorneys will need to convince a judge that while no one technically owns the image, they should control how the image is used.

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