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Freddie Mercury gorilla violates British copyright laws

July 8, 2013 at 4:20 PM   |   Comments

NORWICH, England, July 8 (UPI) -- A gorilla sculpture in a British public art project conjuring up singer Freddie Mercury will come down because it violates copyright laws, the artist said.

The sculpture, one of 60 or so gorillas painted by artists in Norwich, England, shows the former Queen frontman wearing one of his iconic stage suits. The piece, dubbed Freddie "Radio Go Go" Gorilla is one of the most popular gorillas on a trail of them in a public park, the exhibition's organizers said.

The group putting on the display said they were contacted by Mercury Phoenix Trust, an AIDS charity set up in Mercury's honor, and informed the likeness too closely resembles the singer's image and must be removed and repainted, the BBC said Monday.

Mercury died in 1991.

The artist who painted the gorilla, Mik Richardson, said the removal order was "absolutely shocking."

"I'm a mural artist and I have to be very careful about copyright," he said. "I didn't copy the suit exactly. I alter enough so that it's fan art, rather than a copy of it."

Richardson said he will comply with the order and repaint the gorilla, which took him three days to complete the first time.

The gorillas will be auctioned off for charity when the exhibition is over. One of the beneficiaries will be The Born Free Foundation, which counts former Queen guitarist Brian May among its celebrity supporters.

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