"Is this real life? Is this just fantasy?" No rhapsody over Go Go Gorilla

This Kat has received so many emails prompting him to write about the Mercury v Go Go Gorilla saga that initially he saw no point in blogging on it at all, on the basis that everyone must have read about it at least three times already. But since the emails keep coming, he is posting this link to this blog post on Art & Artifice in which he briefly covers this unfortunate dispute, in the optimistic and likely misplaced hope that the flow of "I wonder if you saw this ..." and "I think the IPKat might have missed this .." missives can be stemmed.

In short, this was almost a suit about a suit -- a lawsuit about an alleged copyright infringement of late Queen rock star Freddie Mercury's yellow-and-white suit, which had been sprayed to cover one of 53 fully-grown model charity gorillas that had been distributed across the general area of Norwich, in England's flat but lovely East Anglia region.

Merpel says, wouldn't it be fun if anyone could come up with a good parody of Bohemian Rhapsody in which, instead of shooting a man, the man confesses to taking out a sprayed gorilla ...
"Is this real life? Is this just fantasy?" No rhapsody over Go Go Gorilla "Is this real life? Is this just fantasy?" No rhapsody over Go Go Gorilla Reviewed by Jeremy on Tuesday, July 09, 2013 Rating: 5


  1. Copyright infringement of a suit? Presumably they mean unregistered design infringement, but this suit has been around since 1986 so UDR has long since expired - and the Mercury Phoenix Trust website actually encourages people to make copies!

  2. Is this the real life?
    Is this just fantasy?
    Is sprayed gorilla
    My escape from reality?
    Open your eyes
    Look up to the skies and see
    I'm just an artist, I make colour symphonies
    Because I've got spray gun, good to go
    Spraying high, spraying low
    Anyway the paint flows, it does really matter to me, to me

    Mama, just sprayed an ape
    Put a spray gun to the fellow
    Pulled my trigger, now he’s yellow
    Mama, life had just begun
    Now Fred’s copyright has blown it all away
    Mama, ooo
    Didn't mean to make them cry
    If I'm not back again this time tomorrow
    Such a big carry on, over nothing that really matters

    Too late, my time has come
    Sends shivers down my spine
    Courts will hit me with big fine
    Goodbye everybody - I've got to go
    Gotta leave you all behind and face the truth
    Mama, ooo - (anyway the paint flows)
    I cannot tell a lie
    I sometimes wish I'd never sprayed at all

    I see a great big silhouetto of an ape
    Freddie M., Freddie M., with your lawyers we’ll tangle
    Flying writs, court fighting – very, very dear QC
    Looking silly, big gorilla
    Go figure-oh-oh-oh-oh
    I'm just an artist, everyone loves me
    He's just an artist, feeding his family
    Spare him his life from this monstrosity
    Easy come easy go - will you let me go
    Gorilla! No - we will not let you go - let him go
    Gorilla! We will not let you go - let him go
    Gorilla! We will not let you go - let me go
    Will not let you go - let me go (never)
    Never let you go - let me go
    Never let me go - ooo
    No, no, no, no, no, no, no -
    Freddie lawyers, Freddie lawyers, Freddie lawyers, let me go
    This yellow flub made a devil of a time for me
    for me, for meeeeeeeee
    So you think you can sue me and injunctify
    Strip my gorilla, my colours shanghai?
    Oh baby - can't do this to me baby
    Just gotta get out - just gotta get right outta here

    Ooh yeah, ooh yeah
    Paint job really matters
    Anyone can see
    Paint job really matters – paint job really matters to me

    Anyway the paint flows...

  3. Here's another poor attempt!
    Is this for real man?
    Is this just fantasy?
    Caught in a law suit
    No escape from similarity.
    Open your eyes
    Look at my clothes and see!
    I’m just a rich boy, I need no parody
    Cos they’re my image rights, are not free;
    Mean a lot, to me
    Anyway the dosh comes, doesn’t really matter to me, to me

    Mama I’ve killed again
    Threat of court; writ of lead
    Pulled my trigger, gorilla’s dead
    [Mama, rep. had just begun
    But now I’ve gone and thrown it all away
    Mama, ooo
    Didn’t mean to make you cry]
    But if I’ve not won this time tomorrow
    Carry on, carry on, this really really matters to me.

    Too late, the damage’s done
    Send shivers down my spine
    Reputation undermined.
    Goodbye everybody – I’ve got to go
    Gotta pull the plug and face the truth
    Mama ooo (it’s the way the wind blows)
    I break down and cry
    I sometimes wish I’d never started this at all

    I see a Go Go gorilla bearing down
    Scaramouch, scaramouch will he do the fandango?
    Thunderbolt and lightening – very very frightening to me!
    GoG’rilla, GoG’rilla,
    GoG’rilla, GoG’rilla,
    Gorilla Figaro – magnifico!

    I’m just a rich boy, now nobody loves me
    He’s just a rich boy protecting monopoly
    Saving his rights from this ‘monstrosity’!
    Sleazy Go sleazy Go – will you pay me owt?
    Gorilla! No – we will not pay you owt – pay him owt
    Gorilla! We will not pay you owt – pay him owt
    Gorilla! We will not pay you owt – pay him owt
    Will not pay you owt – pay him owt (never)
    Never pay you owt – pay you owt
    Never pay you owt – ooo
    No, no, no, no, no, Go, Go –
    Oh mama mia, mama mia, got to pay me loads
    Beelzebub will put damages aside for me,
    For me
    For me!

    So you think you can copy me and spit in my eye
    So you think you can mock me and say goodbye
    Oh no way – can’t do this no way
    Just gotta get out – just gotta get the rights out from me here

    Ooh yeah, ooh yeah
    Rights really matter
    Anyone can see
    Rights really matter – rights really matter to me!
    (it’s the way the wind blows…)
    Graham T (Plymouth)

  4. Is this an art work?
    Is this just parody?
    Sprayed in a landslide
    Now it's there for posterity

    Open your eyes
    A word to the wise... you'll see see
    He's just a version, of Freddie Mercury
    Because he's got the look, got the tash
    Yellow top, t-shirt's Flash

    Anyway you view it, doesn't really matter to Queen, to Queen

    M'lud, just sprayed an ape
    Thought he's make a gorgeous pet
    Now he's viral on the net
    M'lud, it's was just some fun
    But now they say I've got to pay

    M'lud, ooo
    Didn't mean to breach his rights
    And I sought advice if it was false endorsement
    Carry on, carry on, is what the lawyer told me

    Too late, my simian
    Sends shivers down their spine
    Journos calling all the time
    Goodbye my gorilla - he's got to go
    Cos I can't afford the fees to state my case

    M'lud, ooo - (anyway the wind blows)
    I don't want to pay
    I sometimes wish I'd picked Hendrix instead.. carry on, carry on.. is what the lawyers told me

    I see an arty vignetto of a man
    The Moustache, the moustache is the problematic feature Problematic feature, even on a creature YES!

    A gorilla, berengei,
    A gorilla, berengei,
    A gorilla - magnifico

    But I'm just a poor ape and nobody loves me
    He's just a rip off, sign of poor artistry
    Spare him his life from zoroastronomy
    Easy come easy go - will you let me go
    Gorilla! No - we will not let you go - let him go
    Gorilla! We will not let you go - let him go
    Gorilla! We will not let you go - let me go
    Will not let you go - let me go (never)
    Never let you go - let me go
    Never let me go - ooo
    No, no, no, no, no, no, no -
    Oh Tanzania, Tanzania, Tanzania let me go
    Diana Fossey has a refuge put aside for me
    for me
    for me

    So you think you can sue me, a writ my oh my
    So you think you'll enjoin me and leave me to die
    Oh baby - independant creation won't save me
    I gotta pull out - and then claim on my lawyer's PI

    Ooh (ooh ooh!!) yeah, ooh yeah
    Image really matters
    Anyone can see
    I should have chose a random - I should have done the Bee Gee called Barry

    Anyway the wind blows...

  5. Hmmm. Are they really "humourless humanoids"? Or is it offensive to depict someone as an ape? If I had the task of defendng someone's image after their death, and they were depicted as an ape, I might well use whatever rights I could muster to stop it.

  6. Kate, I think you may have misunderstood the story. There was no attempt to depict this or any other of the 52 gorillas as Freddie Mercury. The idea was that each gorilla, which was intended to resemble nothing other than a gorilla, would be imaginatively sprayed and then auctioned for charity. This exercise has already been done with cows, lions and possibly other animals too. And it's not Freddie Mercury's image that was the subject of the copyright infringement threat -- just the yellow and white suit.

  7. Jeremy - no, I think Kate has a point. The gorilla is clearly meant to represent in some way Freddie Mercury - see the photo you've posted - and when I first read the story I assumed at first that the objection was that they found this insulting. Indeed, when I drew the story to your attention (by a comment on this blog, which is I think what you recommend, rather than by email, which it seems everyone else did) I pointed out that the stated objection was not that it was insulting. But it is quite possible that that is why the objectors actually want it removed - it's just that either they haven't said so, or possibly thta they did but that didn't make it into the BBC report. I think it's possible that that is the real motivation behind the rather clutching-at-straws objection that they have actually made.

  8. Still don't understand what copyright they can have in the suit


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