So I talked to Kit & Tom. I can assure you - neither is the Antichrist. They're good guys. For reasons I am sure you will all understand, they couldn't say anything about the situation.

A WCRS spokesperson did make this statement to Brand Republic:

"We are facing criticism relating to copyright on the cycling safety TV ad. We have been assured that this execution does not infringe copyright. We feel it is a powerful message and is one that will have an impact on this very serious issue."

I also got in touch with Professor Daniel Simons at the University of Illinois, who made the original film. Here's what he said:

"From what little I understand about British copyright law, the advertisement was probably within the letter of the law given that they made some minor changes from my version (e.g, 8 players rather than 6, a bear suit rather than a gorilla suit). In any case, I'm not interested in pursuing a legal or publicity fight with an ad agency or with the British government. I'd rather let this just run its course
without too much additional attention."

"That said, I am unhappy about what the advertising agency and TfL have done. Nobody from the advertising agency or TfL contacted me to ask about my work, and there was no need to duplicate what I did so closely. I have helped other advertising agencies in the past (for free) to come up with variants of this effect that would be closer to the purpose of their advertising campaign and less clearly duplicating what I did (e.g., I helped advise an ad agency developing a web-based
ad for Hyundai last year). It would have been easy to come up with a scenario that actually involved a failure to see a cyclist and that didn't involve people in animal costumes or passing basketballs."

"I do like the goal of the campaign -- I often speak about the effects of inattention on accidents involving cyclists and motorcyclists myself. I'm just frustrated that they didn't bother to contact me (I'm easy to find) given that they based their ad so closely on my work. Even if they were legally within their rights to do what they did given British copyright laws, it would have been a nice courtesy,
and I could have helped them to come up with a much more targeted ad for their campaign that didn't duplicate my work so closely."

And here's a very short list I've compiled off the top of my head, of ads that were inspired by a short film, comedy sketch or pop promo:

Hamlet 'Photo Booth'
PlayStation 'Life On The PlayStation'
Honda 'Cog'
Guinness 'Man dancing around pint'
Budweiser 'Wassup'
Levi's 'Flat Eric'

Please don't tell me an ad creative can't be inspired by a book or a film. If a 'real' artist can put a urinal in a gallery, then we commercial artists can certainly adapt a pop promo into a TV spot.

However, some of the above ads were made with the collaboration of the original creators, some not.

And maybe that makes a difference.

Not from a creative point of view (they're equally hard to come up with, don't be fooled by commenters on here saying it's easy) and not from a legal point of view (the creator of the short film that the Guinness dancing man ad was based on lost his case, on the grounds that you can't copyright an idea, only an execution).

The involvement of - or payment to - the originator gives a much better feeling, for sure.

But then again, if the goal of the ad is to save lives, as in this case.... should we really feel so bad?