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A Straight Shot of Misappropriation

LifesShort-graphic

ATTORNEYSCOTT COMMENTARY:

More world-wide flair in today’s installment. A Danish company has apparently knocked off a German artist by lifting typography from the German’s flask design. Were this a U.S. case, the original artist would have little recourse, as the U.S. Copyright Act currently offers no protection for fonts and typography, which it considers to be utilitarian and not artistic. This is the case regardless of whether it is a standard font or an elaborate graffiti work. See below for the font-y tomfoolery.

-AttorneyScott ([email protected])

***

Dear YTWWN:

As a designer I really enjoy your blog. I thought I’d share a knock-off that I recently came across.

This t-shirt found on: http://www.frontlineshop.com/revolution-men/

Produced by:

RVLT/revolution

(est. 1996 )

Designer: Christian Katballe

Aarhus, Denmark

http://rvlt.com/

Appears to be a direct copy from The Dudes’ mini-flask design:

http://www.dudes-factory.com/world_dollar/thedudes-miniflask-0103000924.html

See below for a side-by-side comparison:

 

A Kiwi Kopy?

ATTORNEYSCOTT COMMENTARY:

Nowadays, an art thief can pop up anywhere, at any time, even half-way across the world, where Hobbits are known to roam (or so movies have led me to believe). An artist writes in to express her dismay that a New Zealand company has swooped in on her art, copied it, and slapped it on a collection of bras to be sold all across the sweeping lands of NZ.

The U.S. Copyright Act, though, applies only to domestic infringement. This means that we can only pursue claims against infringers who committed acts of infringement in the U.S. (or, potentially, directed out-of-country infringement from within the U.S.). So, a New Zealand design thief would have to be pursued under New Zealand law in New Zealand. I hear it’s beautiful this time of year (or, most any time of year, really).

-AttorneyScott ([email protected])

***

Dear YTWWN:

Thanks so much for the opportunity to share this with you.

A fan of my work who lives in New Zealand recently sent me a photo of a bra she had seen in a store called The Warehouse (http://www.thewarehouse.co.nz). She recognized the print as mine, and emailed me just in case I hadn’t given the manufacturer, The Underwear Club (http://www.theunderwearclub.co.nz), the rights to use it. I had not; in fact, I had never heard of either company until reading her email.

There were some slight alterations made to the pattern: directions of the arrows alternate by row; any overlapping on the sides of the arrows has been removed, most likely because it could not be repeated successfully with those overlaps in place; only a small portion of the original design repeats, probably because they could not steal a complete image; and the size of the arrows is much smaller, which could be a direct result of having stolen a low-resolution image or screen shot, and then reducing it down to increase the resolution. But it is clearly my pattern and my colors.

Below is my original design:

Here is the Warehouse bra:

And here is a comparison of the designs:

 

I have attempted to contact the company to get to the bottom of this, but my attempts to contact them have not produced any response, so I am led to believe they knew what they were doing during the design process. This is clearly an “international incident” of infringement. 


Animal Style: Infringement isn’t Foxy

ATTORNEYSCOTT COMMENTARY:

Etsy, Zazzle, Cafe Press and the like have been a boon to aspiring designers who want a low barrier, affordable way to market their works. But, this low barrier also allows the less savory denizens of the internet – the knock-off artists – to easily sell their shady wares. Below appears to be one such instance.

-AttorneyScott ([email protected])

***

Dear YTWWN:

Hi there! Long-time listener, first-time caller. After reading the latest updates on YTWWN, I decided to look into the misuse of my more popular designs. Lo and behold, I found that a Zazzle user named Mattjkruse has been selling one of my geometric fox designs that I had, stupidly, posted without a watermark.

I know from YTWWN that a low-poly geometric animal is not an original concept by any means. But, this is not a case of someone being heavily inspired by a design; this is someone basically downloading my design and uploading it to their storefront.

Here is my artwork: http://bethnaeyaert.com/index.php/2014/05/25/geometric-fox/

And, here is his page o’ knock-offs:

As you can see, he didn’t stop with one item, but went all out, slapping my artwork on hats and plates and so on.

Thanks for listening.

Don’t Cry for Me, Brandy Melville

ATTORNEYSCOTT COMMENTARY:

Here at YTWWN we get a number of questions regarding the ins and outs of “format-shifting.”

Format-shifting refers to converting a work that was created in one medium (such as a painting on canvas) into a related or unrelated, but different, type of media (t-shirts, key chains, sculptures). By and large, one is not allowed to format-shift a work without the consent of the original author. Ladies goods purveyor Brandy Melville may have missed this memo. See below.

-AttorneyScott ([email protected])

***

Dear YTWWN:

It looks like Brandy Melville has knocked off the artist known as Brain Foetus. You may be familiar with her naturalistic, pen on paper work. We’ve heard that Brandy Melville has made a habit of copying from emerging artists, and Brain Foetus looks to be the most recent.

Here, Brandy Melville’s “Elin Moon Tears Embroidery Top,” a popular item that has been seen on a number of celebs like  Ariana Grande and Mia Pia Perez, bears a design that looks to be a direct copy of a Brain Foetus piece.

The top, which is available in many stores across 10 or so countries, bears the same motifs and expression as the art of Brain Foetus, based out of Tasmania, Australia.

Brain Foetus tried to contact Brandy Melville to get the scoop on this rip-off, but was given the run-around. A sad day for Brandy Melville, wantonly profiting off the talent and spirit of the creative community. Below you will find the top sold by Brandy Melville, and a comparison of the Brandy Melville design with the Brain Foetus piece.

BRANDY MELVILLE TOP

COMPARISON OF BRAIN FOETUS PIECE WITH BRANDY MELVILLE TOP

Underhanded Dealings Down Under?

ATTORNEYSCOTT COMMENTARY

Collage-style or composite works usually present a host of copyright issues. Each element in the collage or composite, to the extent the element is an original work, will be subject to a copyright claim by the owner of the element. The collage or composite makers’ copyright would extend only to the creative way in which the elements are arranged or juxtaposed. Below you will find art that appears to combine pre-existing material to create a “new” work. What is original? What is protected?

-AttorneyScott ([email protected])

***

Dear YTWWN:

Michael Rogers from Melbourne, Australia takes promotional images and retools them to make prints of television shows and movies and sells them as prints. His stuff got my attention when he apparently lifted  images by Shepard Fairey and Joshua M. Smith. It looks like he cut and pasted, then added a few elements around the paste jobs. Ironically, he then affixes a copyright watermark to his “new” works of art. The Great Gatsby frame with Game of Thrones animal images are the most shameless, and he seems to justify his lifting by saying Joshua M Smith has a similar style to noted Mondo artist Ken Taylor here- http://tinyurl.com/nxz3srf. This appears to be  just a few of the works he has knocked off.  See below:

 

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