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Radiohead accused of breaching copyright for “Burn the Witch” video

on May 15, 2016, 2:27pm

Radiohead recently asked a group of artists to create visualizations inspired by their new album A Moon Shaped Pool. However, it turns out they never asked permission to use the work of one animator: the guy who inspired their video for “Burn the Witch”.

Directed by Chris Hopewell and featuring animation by Virpi Kettu, the “Burn the Witch” clip is very clearly inspired by the Trumptonshire Trilogy, created by British animator Gordon Murray. The stop-motion animated children’s program featured three series, Camberwick Green, Trumpton, and Chigley, which aired on BBC 1 in 1966, 1967, and 1969, respectively. The design is almost identical to that used in “Burn the Witch”, including certain characters and sets, but neither Radiohead nor their representatives ever reached out to the 95-year-old Murray to seek approval for the video.

Pitchfork initially reached out to Murray’s son-in-law William Mollet to see if the Murray family knew of Radiohead’s video. He replied, “I’m not aware of anything, no.” A few days later, Mollet was interview by The Daily Mail and revealed that the family is quite upset with what they see as a bastardization of Murray’s work. “Radiohead should have sought our consent as we consider this a tarnishing of the brand,” Mollet told the paper. “It is not something we would have authorized. We consider that there is a breach of copyright and we are deciding what to do next.”

While the Trumptonshire Trilogy featured the playful adventures of the puppet townsfolk of the fictionalized shires, Radiohead’s video consists of pagan rituals and sacrifices a lá The Wicker Man. The video’s creators have said that the clip was meant to draw attention to the ongoing refugee crisis in Europe and “the blaming of Muslims and the negativity” found in modern day European politics. However, Mollet remains unswayed by the allegorical intentions, saying, “Gordon would be appalled” if he ever saw the video.

While we await to see if the Murray family will take legal action against Radiohead, revisit the “Burn the Witch” video below.

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