Author Archives: JessiBean

Dana Blankenhorn knows more about copyright than you!

Blogger and ‘journalist’ Dana Blankenhorn recently posted an article on Smart Planet about recent developments in US Healthcare policy.  When this article was posted, he included the image “Big Mother” by world-renowned Illustrator Chris Buzelli (you’ve seen him in Rolling Stone, advertizing work, etc.)

"Big Mother'" by Chris Buzelli for Boston Magazine

The problem here was that Dana never even attempted to contact Chris for permission to use this image, which was licensed for another publication anyway.  Mr. Buzelli posted a concise response asking that the image be removed immediately.  The image was taken down, and the following message went up:

buzelli

The picture has been removed. However, I want you and every artist to
know the following:

1. It’s easy to watermark any Web illustration if you don’t want it
copied. You leave it in the clear, you’re giving permission.
2. I made a thumbnail. I didn’t “steal” the picture. I linked to the
original, gave you credit, and tried to bring you business.
3. I will also remove all references to you from the story, quid pro
quo.

This idea that one must gain permission before doing what comes
naturally on the Web has to end. You have the tools to stop it. Use
them.

This is when Illustrators, concerned citizens, even the heads of the Society of Illustrators, a pioneering organization for artists’ copyrights, chimed in about how wrong Mr. Blankenhorn is – watermarks can be easily removed and junk up an image, no matter how small the theft it is still theft, and acting like you’ve done someone a favor when you stole from them is just plain rude.

But it got even better, because rather than responding to all these impassioned pleas for sanity from the art community, Mr. Blankenhorn posted a tech article to explain to everyone how easy it is to stop intellectual property theft.  Some highlights:

I would try to use small versions of each image, just big enough to fit the space. I would credit sources. I would name them and link to them. If it was a piece of art or a poster that was being sold online, I’d link to the sales page. And I’d say nice things. That usually works. Publicity is good. Art that isn’t seen doesn’t exist.

Point is, any professional who does not want their images used without permission can and should protect them. Failing to take basic steps is like leaving a buffet lunch out by the street, walking away, and then calling the cops when someone takes a carrot.

Dana attempts to call his theft justified under the Fair Use section of the US Copyright law (because the “I gave you exposure, you should be THANKING ME” logic wasn’t winning anyone over) but he failed to note that this does not give free use of copyright  protected works by living artists, and certainly not for profit – like an article he is being paid to write.  Still not one serious apology, just alot of feeble excuses.

Nick Simmons likes to Trace

Nick Simmons, son of Kiss guitarist Gene Simmons, is a “manga artist.”  Not only that, he’s been published too!  His comic Incarnate was published by Radical Publishing in July of 2007, with a follow-up second issue out in August of 2009.

What is interesting here is that most of the comic has been lifted from other manga artists, and we aren’t talking amateurs here.  His victims are some of the most notable books in this comic genre, including but not limited to: Bleach, Yu-Gi-Oh!, Hellsing, One Piece and Vampire Hunter D.  He’s even “borrowed” from some rather talented folks on Deviantart. Digging through that would take a while for those of us not familiar with manga comics enough to spot the rips, so here’s some helpful comparison from some outraged fans of the originals:

Panel from Bleach on the left, Panel from Incarnate on the right…

And in case that wasn’t clear enough, an overlay for you!

Incarnate on the left, Bleach on the right

One more, for fun… Bleach is on the top, Incarnate is on the bottom.

Plus, some lifted dialogue…

This was first brought to light on fan forums and LiveJournal, and a small Facebook following is sprouting calling for legal action against Mr. Simmons.  The fellow who created/illustrated Bleach, Tite Kubo, tweeted this (translated from Japanese): “Actually, from last night til this morning, a huge number of foreign fans were saying “This American manga is ripping off Bleach!” or something like that. Well, I looked at the site, but I can’t really read English, but it’s a manga made by Gene Simmon’s son.”  And a company representative of Viz Media, which publishes Bleach in North America, was asked what was being done about the alleged plagiarism.  They said, “We’ve got our team on it.”

Not one word from Mr. Simmons in all of this, but his publisher released a statement saying they are no longer producing the Incarnate comics pending further investigation.

“We at Radical Publishing Inc. and Radical Comics Inc. are quite concerned to hear the news surrounding Nick Simmons’s Incarnate comic book. We are taking this matter seriously and making efforts now to contact the publishers of the works in question in an effort to resolve this matter.  We have halted further production and distribution of the Incarnate comic book and trade paperback until the matter is resolved to the satisfaction of all parties.  Rest assured that Radical is taking swift action regarding this matter and will continue in its efforts to maintain the integrity and protect the intellectual property of artists throughout the world whose creative works are the bedrock of our company and the comic book industry.”

source

My favorite part?  This little gem from Mr. Simmon’s DeviantArt Journal dated November 2008:

If you steal my artwork, you will pay. In cash.
Spank you very much and good night.

Spank you very much, indeed, sir.

Sam Flores print looks way too close for comfort

Sam Flores is a fairly well established artist in the modern/street art scene, often appearing in mags like Juxtapoz.  Being a fairly big name in the art world, it came as quite a shock when it was pointed out that one of his most recent limited edition prints (advertised here: http://omgposters.com/2009/07/23/dragon-tree-art-print-by-sam-flores/, noted for plagiarism in the comments) appears to be almost entirely lifted from a painting by comic and book illustrator Jon Foster.

Jon Foster's Dragon and Herdsman, 2006

Jon Foster's Dragon and Herdsman, 2006

Sam Flores' Dragon Tree, 2009

Sam Flores' Dragon Tree, 2009

And just in case those aren’t clear enough, an animated overlay for comparison.

Animated Gif Overlay

Animated Gif Overlay

I never expect someone so established and well known as Sam Flores has become to resort to such obvious copying, and it’s a little more surprising to use someone like Jon Foster, who is a very big name in the illustration world right now.  So far, Jon has been trying to make contact and Sam has yet to comment or respond to any of this.