OK Go accuses Apple of ripping off their ‘The Writing’s On the Wall’ music video

iPhone 6 Ad

Apple introduced its product event yesterday afternoon with a promotional video called “Perspective,” which is dedicated to “those who have always seen things differently.” The nearly three-minute spot pans around a room at a wide angle, occasionally showing various shapes transforming into inspirational words with a unique perspective. 

For one musical group, however, the video seemed a little too familiar to their own. Chicago-based alternative rock band OK Go, speaking with Bloomberg, has accused Apple of ripping off the music video for its “The Writing’s On the Wall” song, set to be included in their new Hungry Ghosts album launching in mid October.

According to OK Go band manager Andy Gershon, the visual tricks used in “Perspective” were blatantly copied from their “The Writing’s On The Wall” music video, which has been viewed over 10 million times since it was uploaded to YouTube in June.

Gershon adds that it wasn’t simply a coincidence on Apple’s part, either, claiming that the band previously met with the iPhone maker about potentially collaborating on the video together. That partnership failed to materialize.

Bloomberg Businessweek has the scoop:

“He says the band met with Apple in April to pitch that visual concept as a potential video collaboration. Apple declined, so the band made its own video. Apple then hired 1stAveMachine, the production company behind OK Go’s video, to make a video for its iPhone launch event; it also used the same director.”

Gershon encourages people to watch the videos, which are both embedded in this post, and draw their own conclusions as to whether Apple is a copycat in this case. Based on my own impression, he does seem to have a valid point — while the videos are not identical, they do have some strikingly obvious similarities.

It is not the first time that Apple has been accused of copying, either. The iconic series of iPod ads from 2005, featuring dancing silhouettes of people, were accused of closely resembling a commercial for Lugz boots. A year later, another Apple television spot was all too familiar to a video made by the band Postal Service. Just as Gershon has claimed in this case with OK Go, Apple had hired the director of the Postal Service’s video to make its own commercial.

Gershon says that OK Go is exploring legal options, but there might not be much they can do. According to Stanford Law School professor Mark Lemley, copying someone’s idea and adapting it for another purpose in the manner that Apple has done is not usually considered a violation of copyright law in the United States. Nevertheless, Lemley claims it probably wasn’t a smart move by Apple from a PR perspective.

I would have to agree.

Apple did not immediately respond to requests for comment.