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.
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:-
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.....
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.
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.
When you post something on the internet, you never know where it might turn up. In the below case, an artist's original embroidery design was apparently borrowed for the cover art on a book entitled, appropriately, "The Long Stitch Good Night: An Embroidery Mystery." The embroidery piece was apparently reproduced in graphic art form, but this, still would violate the original artist's exclusive rights to create derivative works from her original embroidery piece. See 17 U.S.C. 106 (2).
Maybe the "embroidery mystery" is how this usage made its way through Penguin's legal clearance process?
- Scott A. Burroughs, Esq. ( [email protected] )
I am an artist, designer and owner of a small business called SeptemberHouse. My business focuses mostly on needlecraft, specifically embroidery. I design and sell embroidery patterns and recently found out that one of them showed up on the cover of a mass market paperback without my permission.
The pattern was one that I had posted on my blog as a free promotional pattern. Pattern designers often do this to generate views as well as interest and buzz about their work. I always clearly indicate that they are for personal use and copyrighted. This particular pattern is called "She Scatters Shamrocks" and was released in February 2010 just before St. Patrick's Day.
A few months ago, a reader who is familiar with this pattern contacted me to tell me that she saw it on a book cover and wanted to let me know because she wasn't sure it was supposed to be there. I'm so glad she did this because it was NOT supposed to be there and had she not told me, I would have never known. The book is called "The Long Stitch Good Night" and is written by Amanda Lee a.k.a Gayle Trent published by Penguin/Signet books. It is part of a series of mystery books with a needlework theme. This particular one also had an Irish theme.
- Book cover containing artwork stolen from embroidery pattern designer
My embroidery pattern appears in the lower right side of the image. It's small but it is definitely there. I was never contacted by the publisher or illustrator, asked permission to use the image or given any credit or compensation.
I have distributed a number of DMCA notifications and the image has been removed from some sites. I am still waiting to receive responses on others. At this point I am still deciding on what other action to take.
I also wrote recently wrote a post about this situation on my blog, so september.
Owls are really hot right now. Really hot. And they have been so for some time. There is no other way to explain the slew of owl-related posts that have popped up here over the last few months. Below is the most recent, with Kirsten claiming that Caroline has sunk her talons into Kirsten's original owl rendering.
This case is interesting because of the two works' very similar color palettes. Most Courts, including the 9th Circuit (per this case: L.A. Printex Industries, Inc. v. Aeropostale, Inc., 676 F.3d 841 (9th Cir. 2012)(the case says "the similarities in color arrangements are probative of copying"), find that an allegedly-infringing work that is done in the same color scheme as the original is more likely to be a violation of the Copyright Act.
Has Caroline copied Kirsten? Is the similarity between the color palettes even necessary to reach your decision?
- Scott A. Burroughs, Esq. ([email protected])
UPDATE: I have spoken with the artist in question and she admits to having seen my work prior to making the drawing but was very gracious. Because of her kind attitude her name has been removed from this post. Her reply is below, and more thoughts on this matter can be found at my blog.
"I remember to have seen a small picture of your drawing while Googling owls a couple of days earliere, whereafter I drew my own. Actually I thought your drawing was "just a random drawing"/a small funny sketch of a kind, since I've only seen your drawing and not any website of yours or link to any name. My own owl was ment to be "just a random drawing" as well, since I drew it while being at work late at night. It was ment just to be another animal drawing. It was only because one of my friends saw my animal drawings (incl the owl) and told me to sell it at her boyfriends brothers store, where she worked. At that time it didn't even cross my mind, and for that I apologize. No doubt - I'll stop selling it online first thing after have written this e-mail. And I will let the shops know first thing tomorrow, that I won't sell the owl any longer to them. I hope that you don't get a wrong and terrible impression of me - this was never my intention and if I have caused you any greater troubles, I am sorry."
A friend of mine just wrote to me to say that she had come across some of my artwork online...except not under my name. Eve writes:
"I came across this Danish illustrator who did an owl that looks just like yours. At first i thought it was your print!"
I went to the link and sure enough - bam! - there is a drawing of an owl that looks suspiciously like mine. My initial reaction was shock, but then I talked myself down by thinking, 'well, the world is a big place and it is totally possible that this is a coincidence. It's not like I'm the first person to have thought of drawing a cute patterned owl.'
But then I looked some more. The detail in the face is UNCANNY. There are elements that are *extremely* similar: the shape of the head, the rendering of the pupils, the lines emanating from the pupils, the shape of the eye area, the circles around the upper eye area, the criss-cross pattern at the crown of the head, the fact that said pattern is broken by broken by a strong central element, the u-shape under the eyes (also broken up by a strong central element), the placement of the tail, and even the freaking colour! The fact that there are ELEVEN very strong similarities between the two images makes me feel fairly sure that this is a copy of my drawing.
I've just been contacted by someone telling me my work has been stolen...
The design which looks very similar has recently won a competition with a $1000 prize, and the winner, Mike Krisza, has said on his site he is currently selling the design on tshirts successfully.
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
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?
First spotted in an outdoor outfitter store, this little icon started popping up on Eddie Bauer sleeping bags in 2010. It's been hard to track online because it doesn't appear on the Eddie Bauer website. There are however multiple examples on Amazon posted by Eddie Bauer: Exhibit A, Exhibit B
There is no doubt that this is not an exact copy of the icon, because it is inverted horizontally... but COME ON! Maybe they thought it was a new icon up for grabs, but they definitely didn't check into it first!
For the sake of full disclosure, I have to admit that this hit a little close to home, because I was a part of the team that designed the original Sustainable UF logo. It was designed in 2008 by a group of design students at the University of Florida in the Mint program (a student-run graphic design studio). See the Sustainable UF logo in these porfolios:
"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."
Clearly using flipped Jill Greenberg as reference material
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.
We all know there is a fine line between inspiration and rip-off. A few months ago I stumbled on what I thought were Mike Perry's illustrations on Society6. Turns out it wasn't his work but that of Max F.
I really love Mike Perry's work and find it quite inspiring but I really feel this Max guy's style is way too close to the original... same patterns, same shapes, same elements (clouds, bricks, diamonds, eyes, stars, tiny house, faces...) What do you think? Am I just too paranoid or is it really too much?
So which is which? These are really just a few examples but if you want to see for yourself:
Turns out Rue 21 feels that they can just use whatever they feel like for their shirts.
Here's the original drawing that was posted on deviantart:
Here's the rip:
Today I went to TeeFury and noticed something looked familiar.
Todays Tee design:
I haven't checked to see if the illustrations of the characters are stolen too, but I wouldn't be surprised. Don't get me wrong, I like the shirt, however, it is what it is.