Lego Systems, the U.S. division of the Lego Group, has refused to grant permission for a fan made Spinal Tap video featuring the iconic plastic toys to be included on an upcoming concert DVD.
According to the New York Times, the stop-action clip for the Spinal Tap tune “Tonight I’m Gonna Rock You Tonight” was created and posted to YouTube by Coleman Hickey in 2007.
The video became a hit with both fans of the band and its members. In fact, Harry Shearer, Christopher Guest and Michael McKean showed it during their recent tour “Unwigged and Unplugged.”
Now the trio is preparing to release a DVD of their shows and have hit a roadblock over the inclusion of Hickey’s video.
“We love that our fans are so passionate and so creative with our products,” Julie Stern, a spokeswoman for Lego Systems, told the Times. “But it had some inappropriate language, and the tone wasn’t appropriate for our target audience of kids 6 to 12.”
Um, I’m wondering what Stern and Lego think the median age of Spinal Tap fans is. I’m guessing it’s somewhere north of “6 to 12.”
The company’s decision is also puzzling considering the prevalence of clips on YouTube featuring Lego characters that haven’t been taken down: clips like “Lego Weapon Store,” “Legos Gone Wild” and, ironically, “Tonight I’m Gonna Rock You Tonight.”
“YouTube is a less commercial use,” Stern explained. “But when you get into a more commercial use, that’s when we have to look into the fact that we are a trademarked brand, and we really have to control the use of our brand, and our brand values.”
Right, especially if the videos on YouTube are likely to help sell more Legos to fans who want to create their own clips and a Spinal Tap DVD might not.
Despite the fact that an intellectual property lawyer for the band told the Times they could probably win a copyright infringement lawsuit brought by Lego if they went ahead and included the clip, the trio decided it wasn’t worth it.
“Lego are the only people who strictly said no. It was Lego Kafka,” Shearer quipped to the Times, referring to other copyright deals the band made for the DVD, including one with The Rolling Stones.
And how does Hickey feel about missing out on immortality in a Spinal Tap concert DVD?
“In a way I’m disappointed … It’s not like I was going to get any money for it, but it’s too bad,” Hickey told the Times. “Lego has the right to do that, but it’s unfortunate that they don’t have a little more of a sense of humor.”