Downward Dog-Gone it! Yoga Studio Accused of Art Theft

ATTORNEYSCOTT COMMENTARY:

In this installment, we have the (alleged) wholesale misappropriation of an artist’s work for use in advertising. Kinfolk, a yoga studio in California, apparently did a right click + save as move on the artist’s work, and slapped the name of their studio on top of it. The artist writes directly to the studio, below.

-ATTORNEY SCOTT ([email protected])

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Dear Kinfolk Yoga,

My name is Tim. I doubt you know me but you have decided to steal artwork from me to use in a local newspaper print ad for yourself. It is unfathomable to me, as a professional and independent artist, that someone would do such a thing. But I’m guessing you saw some “pretty” art that was “almost” print-ready in size, because yes, I give away desktop/phone wallpapers to my fans every now and then to use on their personal devices – not in any sort of commercial way at all to help make them money, or sell services.

What have you done is terrible. I’ll probably call you later today and chat about this some more, but in the meantime, you should probably immediately remove my artwork from any current/future ads and anywhere else they may be being used illegally at the moment.

All the best (not),

Timothy J. Reynolds
turnislefthome.com

The link can be found here: http://turnislefthome.tumblr.com/post/73412170613/dear-kinfolk-yoga-my-name-is-tim-i-doubt-you

 

Boosting a Logo Design?

ATTORNEYSCOTT COMMENTARY:

Logos are an interesting beast, legally-speaking. They can be protected by both trademark and copyright laws, depending on how unique the artwork is that comprises the logo. Most logos, though, are small and somewhat simplistic, meaning that they are best protected by trademark. Below, one discerning reader has identified what he believes to be design theft of logo artwork. What thinketh you?

-Attorney Scott ([email protected])

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Dear YTWWN:

Below is an image from an agency called “Oohology.” In a recent tweet, the company celebrated the logos they had created in 2013.  One of these designs, though, appears to be ripped off from Jamba Juice. How no one has noticed this yet is beyond me. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that there aren’t any Jamba Juices around this city.

The images:

 

 

PUTTING THE (STREET) ART IN WALMART?

Walmart is known for rolling back prices, but are they also making moves that roll right over the intellectual property rights of a Bay Area artist?

The politics of this dispute give it an extra bit of oomph. Walmart, known to be a leading member of the establishment and conservative and not the greatest in terms of worker treatment, has allegedly misappropriated the more anti-establishment work of Eddie Colla and incorporated that work into its art prints. The Colla work in question is certainly protectable as a two-dimensional work of visual art. Walmart’s piece, on first glance, looks to be quite similar. Was Walmart’s manner of moving into the street art game a colossal blunder?

-ATTORNEYSCOTT – [email protected]

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Dear YTWWWN:

 

Eddie Colla, an Oakland-based artist, created his well-known piece, “Ambition” in 2009. Depicting a female graffiti writer with a spray can, the piece reads, “If you want to achieve greatness, stop asking for permission.” But in November 2013, Colla discovered an exact replica of his work marketed as an art print on the Walmart website — without his permission or any sort of legal agreement.

 

A big box retailer copying an independent artist note-for-note was not the kind of audacious underdog story Colla envisioned in the work’s text. “I made a piece about individuals controlling their own fate and not making their success contingent on the approval of others,” said Colla. “It then gets adopted by a neo-feudal corporation like Walmart. A corporation whose employment practices have created a 2 million person underclass in this country.”

 

As Colla dug deeper, he discovered that Walmart was selling the mass-produced prints of his work through a wholesaler called Wayfair, who is marketing Colla’s work as a Banksy print through Amazon and Overstock.com in addition to Walmart’s website. Eddie Colla’s name was omitted entirely and his signature was taken off the piece. Friends who visited the Walmart website after they heard Colla’s story noticed the Colla knock-off showing up in their Facebook ads and Google ads on the various sites they visited when they subsequently surfed the net — presumably because of a cookie from the Wayfair website.

 

The idea of big box retailers like Walmart appropriating an anti-establishment art form, street art, to further their profits is all too ironic. The bastions of conservatism and propagators of the increasing wealth gap and declining middle class, companies like Walmart have an ideology pitted against the anti-authoritarian message of Colla’s “Ambition.” Colla chose to combat the unabashed theft of his work with parody — and, of course, an impending lawsuit. A new version of “Ambition” titled “It’s Only Stealing If You Get Caught” shows the same image with altered text: “Introducing the anti-establishment, left-wing subversive vandalism collection. Glorified vandalism available now at Walmart.”
The satirical new artwork — which recently was debuted on a San Francisco billboard on the intersection of Oak St. and Divisadero St. — points out that Walmart’s greed has no limits. Even a radical art form has the potential to be swallowed up by the behemoth machine of corporate capitalism. Colla released a print of “It’s Only Stealing If You Get Caught” with 1XRun on earlier today, December 2, to raise awareness for his cause and gather funds for the hefty legal fees necessary to sue Walmart and Wayfair for the theft of his artwork. The print sold out within one hour, but it’s only a start.

- Online source

The images are below, Colla on top, Walmart on bottom:

Displaying IMG_1143.jpgDisplaying walmart screen shot 2.png

Is Copying in the Cards?

ATTORNEYSCOTT COMMENTARY:

For reasons too boring to get into, the Copyright Office has deemed fonts to not be worthy of copyright protection. It doesn’t matter if it is a complex graffiti font or a font made of sleeping pandas, fonts are generally not protectable. But, if you use your font to create a literary work, that work may be subject to protection if it is creative. There is no delineated length requirement for a literary work, it simply has to be creative and stand alone as a work of art. Which brings us to the issue of alleged design theft at the heart of this post. An artist creates a literary work with accompanying font design that captures the angst that’s felt when one loves and loses and dwells on the loss of that love. It is a literary work that is on the pithy side, to be sure. But should it be enough to garner protection? Even if the work is not deemed by the Copyright Office to be protectable, is the apparent appropriation seen below acceptable?

The original work, by Mallory Rose, is on the top, and the “inspired” work, by Ashkahn, is on the bottom.

By: Attorney Scott – [email protected]

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