And this time, everybody got paid.
Still from “Pull The Trigger,” 2017, by FalcaoLucas, courtesy of Circus Records.
Odds are, you've never wondered who makes those GIFs you use. Sometimes it feels like GIFs come out of nowhere: loops of pixels that are found growing naturally in fertile regions of the web like mushrooms, free to be picked and used by whoever finds them.
That freewheeling attitude seems to be what led to the unsolicited use of more than a dozen GIF artists' work last summer to create a social media visual for the Flux Pavilion and NGHTMRE collaboration "Feel Your Love." None of the artists were contacted, and none of their names or websites were credited. Needless to say, the creators weren't thrilled.
GIF artist Kyttenjanae accused those involved of ripping off her work, as well as that of the other artists featured in the visual. Flux Pavilion, aka Joshua Steele, and his label Circus Records responded quickly, first providing credit to the artists and later taking down the video per the artists' request. "Quite quickly, we realized that something had gone wrong, as a team and as a project," says Steele. "We jumped in as soon as possible to connect with the artists and make it clear that we were all upset by the situation and were keen to work with them and make it right."
Afterwards Jonah Nigro, aka Popsicle Illusion, approached Circus Records with a proposition for another music video, contracting GIF artists to create original work for a new song. Many of the original artists signed on to the new project.
What started as controversy is now the new Flux Pavilion music video for the track "Pull The Trigger," directed by Popsicle Illusion.
The video is intended to be the origin story of Steele's new stage look for his ambitious Flux Pavilion tour, Around The World in 80 Raves. It follows his digital avatar as he navigates mineral eruptions created by Portuguese duo FalcaoLucas and Pi-Slices, black and taffy mannequins by Matt Corbin, polygonal mandalas by Hexeosis and Luis Aretuo, and rainbow-tinged psychedelics by Popsicle Illusion.
"I'm really happy with the result," says Steele. "The artists were amazing to work with and it's been a joy to watch their work grow around mine."
All in all, this incident of copyright infringement turned out in the best possible way. Circus Records and Steele were both gracious in the way they handled the situation. "It was a collective error from all involved," says Andrew Neill of Circus Records. "We all learned some lessons with this." But other cases of infringement don't always turn out so rosy. In 2015, Diplo faced similar charges of appropriating Rebecca Mock's GIF art. And artist Max Hattler sued Bass Nectar for using his work during their concerts.
"Most internet artists who start gaining recognition experience this," Illusion says. "I've found my work used by businesses on their social medias, as album artwork, in video edits for musicians, as well as the odd Facebook ad."
To a certain degree, this problem comes with the territory. GIF animators work in a medium that co-evolved with a culture of rapid internet sharing. The same forces that propagate these artists' work can also cause the artists themselves to fall into anonymity, unless they speak out.
Watch the new Flux Pavilion music video for the track "Pull The Trigger," directed by Popsicle Illusion, on YouTube.