Recasting in the Digital Age


One of the exclusive rights granted to an artist when she creates an original work  is the right to “transform” or “recast” that work in ways she sees fit. That precludes others from, say, taking one’s painting of a unicorn and making unicorn stuffed animals based on the painting. Below, we have a very modern example of alleged unauthorized “transformation” and “recasting.” Read on.

- Scott A. Burroughs, Esq. ( [email protected] )



Quite a lot of activity ensued on Facebook Recently when High Street Gallery posted details of an upcoming art exhibition by Artist Lynn Howarth on Facebook page I know this Great Little Place In Glasgow.

Some visitors remarked “wow” at the posting of the lady’s art but one or two comments were more inquisitive. “Is this an edited photo?” someone enquired. The answer from High Street Gallery representative David Johnston was that no, Ms Howarth’s art was all freehand and on ipad.


Really. Well that’s astounding. It appears we have a new art legend in our midst. Although if you compare her digital art to her traditional art there seems to be  more than a slight difference in skill level. As some digi-artheads got together and started rummaging around Ms Howarths own website things became interesting. Her Facebook pages (linked from her art website) were even more interesting. Gasps from various visitors enquiring “My goodness is that a painting”? were met with yes. Apparently you only have to look closely to see the brush strokes and the sitters were also very patient. Apparently.


Digital Painting - not photography based.


Now the iPad (which this was created on) is good and the art packages are great as any digi-artist will tell you. No need for great cumbersome digitisers etc. This painting however, and we are not saying it is, but let’s just say we are more than a little convinced it’s a photo-manip….but did she forget the eyes? There is other very telling detail if you look closely….and we did.

So we got suspicious to the integrity of this whole thing. Some quick searching came up with this:-

I's A Freehand Drawing FFS!

Claimed to be a freehand drawing


Abbozzo image on the left, Ms Howarths “Freehand Drawing” on the right.

We couldn’t resist in our excited little group sticking this up on a HUGE monitor and checking it out. It’s a photomanip with some kind of drawing or tracing on top, that goes without question but the interesting thing was the copyright.  It belonged to Architects Abbozzo.

Two of our members are photographers and this was enough to get them, lets say, a bit pissed. The hunt continued…..

I't A Freehand Drawing remember

I't A Freehand Drawing remember

This one was quite spectacular.

There were more…..

By this point, one of our members started posting on the High Street Gallery Facebook Page. The posts were removed but some stayed for a while. We decided it was the right thing to do to contact the copyright owners.

Now, YouThought We Wouldn’t Notice states that it is not really about artist against artist, but this gallery owners attitude turned out to be appalling. Ms Howarth may be niaive at best, but the way this next guy was treated is dispicable.

Another Freehand Sketch!

Original by photographer on the left and Ms Howarths  freehand sketch on the right. Unfortunately the quality on this is poor as it was pulled quickly.

The photographer (who has requested that his name be removed) contacted High Street Gallery but was shocked to find that the gallery were standing by their artist. The photographer stated that the gallery defended Ms Howarth. He also pointed out that far from being naive, Ms Howrths own website is covered with copyright symbols on her own work so she is clearly aware.

And if you think all this doesn’t matter – we reckon there were around 10 images in this show at least (We had another fantastic copyright breach of George Square in Glasgow but it too was pulled quickly). Ten images with say an edition of say 500 selling at 100 pounds sterling. That’s a total of half a million in turnover. Surely it’s right that some of this goes to the creator of the true original?

This, of course, does not deal with the fact that digital art is presented as painting when it is photography based photomanipulation or tracing.

Ms Howarth has even done a demo at an iPad store. I wonder what Apple would think?

The only funny thing about all this, her exhibition was called Mi Art (as in My Art but with an iPad twist).

We will be watching.

UPDATE High Street Gallery, further to the glaring copyright infringement cancelled the Lynn Howarth Exhibition. At this time we cannot confirm if they are still selling the questionable prints.



Posted by Alan S  |  34 Comments  |  in Facebook, Fine Art, Photography, Print

Copyright Fatality? Derivative work or lawful reference?

AttorneyScott Commentary:

One of the exclusive rights that inures to a copyright holder is the right to create a derivative work from an original copyrighted work, as previously discussed. If another artist creates something that adds on, embellishes, or transforms that original work, she may obtain copyright protection for the work that she added, but she cannot exploit the derivative without the authorization of the copyright holder in the underlying work.

Looking at images for inspiration and then created an original work inspired by that image or images is fair game, however, so long as only the idea is used and the expression is new and the author’s own. ‘Referencing’ an image is somewhat of a closer call, as the legality will be decided by what it was that was used during the ‘reference,’ whether or not that material is copryightable, and the amount of the taking.

Recall the big AP photographer v. Shepard Fairey ‘Obama Hope Poster’ rigamarole – Shepard got creamed in that case because it was shown that he basically traced and colorized an original photograph. The result may have been different if he had simply taken the placement of Obama’s hands, or the way his head was tilted, and added all new material around that element. Or, maybe not. What say you in regard to the alleged taking below?



Fatal Clothing references photographers images without consent for their t-shirt designs.

Photographs by Dangerously Dolly and Greg Truelove

Fatal Clothing llc.
Owned and operated by Bill Gaylord & Mark Atkins. We are located in Southern California.
Fatal Clothing specializes in Traditional Tattoo Influenced art. Servicing consumers worldwide via internet, retail stores and wholesale distribution. Mark Atkins started his early venture working out of his garage while in high school designing T-Shirts selling to friends and family. As the popularity prospered, it was apparent to Mark, to grow the business he needed help. In late 2008, Bill Gaylord joined forces with Mark to take Fatal to the next level. Today, Fatal Clothing currently sells to hundreds of Retail stores worldwide. Our reputation for providing unique artwork, quality and service has impressed all our clients.
We strive to stay on top.
Fatal Clothing or Fatal Rip-Off?


Posted by LizDevine  |  18 Comments  |  in Photography, Retail

Black Milk Clothing Rip-Off Dali, Escher, Klimt, LucasArts and More…

Black Milk Clothing out of Australia have been making leggings and swimsuits with images on them. Many of the images seem to be appropriated from VERY well known artists – who I gather would be IMPOSSIBLE to buy rights from for such applications. There are more examples on their site than just the below but i thought it was a good starting point to see how a business has become successful (they have more than 15,000 facebook fans and seem to sell A LOT of product) off the back of other people’s art.

These Star Wars referenced characters which made HUGE rounds in tech circles this year seem to have been taken off their store (no doubt due to the IP power & threats from LucasArts), but many many comments on their facebook page from the staff and fans say that you can still order it by ordering a different item and putting in the comments that you’d like the R2D2 design instead.

The Dali image – and correct me if i’m wrong – would never be sold by anyone authorized to sell it – especially to sell on a commercial product without licensing – which i’d gather from the varied selection of famous artists they have works from – Black Milk don’t buy. Product Page

MC Escher as well – same comments as on Dali.

And then Klimt.

Finally: Theophile Steinlen – Product Page

There are actually a bunch more – look for the Jaws Ripoff, Venus, Uncle Sam and more. I don’t know how long they’ll continue to get away with producing such works or if any repercussions will come of it, but it really isn’t right. Thoughts?

Posted by Martine  |  156 Comments  |  in Design, Fashions, Fine Art, Photography, Print, Retail

Flipping photos for PSA posters doesn’t make it original art

“Here in this post we have gathered a unique variety of gorgeous hand drawn illustrations by Grzegorz Domaradzki aka Gabz. We hope that you will admire these worthy works.”

Grzegorz Domaradzki

Clearly using flipped Jill Greenberg as reference material

Jill Greenberg

Jill Greenberg

I emailed Jill’s studio and they said they were going to look into it. Shame since the intent of the poster is obviously a good cause.

Posted by Fuzeillear  |  24 Comments  |  in Design, Photography, Print
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