Success Kid’s mom is blasting a fireworks maker that she says has used her son’s image without permission.
Laney Marie Griner, whose 2007 pic of her son, S.G., has since become a popular meme, is suing Jake’s Fireworks. The company is using S.G.’s image on a product called Back Off that claims to shoot flaming balls, and features the image of a pacifier on its packaging. Griner is claiming copyright infringement, and is asking for unspecified damages.
Griner alleges that Jake’s Fireworks used her son’s image without asking for permission. Last July, Griner’s lawyer complained about the situation to Jake’s Fireworks. “Despite assurances that the unauthorized commercial uses would cease, the Back Off product remains advertised and offered for sale,” reads Griner’s complaint (see below).
However, on Wednesday, the product appeared to have been removed from the websites of Jake’s Fireworks and its distribution partners.
Reps from the companies could not be reached for comment.
This isn’t the first time a marketer has attempted to use a meme for financial gain. In 2013, the creators of Keyboard Cat and Nyan Cat sued Warner Bros. and 5th Cell Media for unauthorized use of their respective meme cat’s images in 5th Cell’s Scribblenauts video games. The two later settled for an unspecified amount.
Copyright law considers such memes subject to be “fair use,” which means it’s okay for people to use and modify them, provided that they’re not doing so for financial gain.
“We’re not questioning the right of Internet users to use this,” Griner’s attorney, Jeff Boyles, told Mashable. “This is more about a company making our client a de facto endorser of an age-inappropriate product.”
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