Oh, the Irony!


Today’s post comes with a side of delicious, delicious irony. It is has long been settled that ideas are not covered by copyright law and it is only the expression of an idea that qualifies for protection. No less an authority than the California Supreme Court, in Weitzenkorn v. Lesser, Cal., 256 P.2d 947, 955, noted that ideas “are as free as air[,]” which is very free indeed. It was way back in 1947 that Congress withdrew protection for “any product of the mind,” and proclaimed that from that point hence, only the expression of an idea would be protectable.

Which brings us to today’s installment, which pertains an original work created by an artist that references the notion espoused years ago by the California Supreme Court, and combines this reference with other original elements of artistry. Sadly, it appears that the entirety of the work may have been lifted by someone who mistook ideas for expression.

- AttorneyScott ([email protected])


This shop owner is using BelandKal artwork without permission on their laser etched products.
This is the artwork as depicted on the BelandKal website
and here are the links from thhe infringer:
And this is the infringer’s main website:

Here is the BelandKal piece:

And here is the rip-off:

Posted by AttorneyScott  |  0 Comment  |  in Uncategorized

2015 – New Year, New Art, New Disputes – First Up: A Tile Tweak


Happy 2015 to all of you out there. After taking the month of December off to reflect on a year of interesting posts, and to move the YTWWN headquarters from Culver City to Venice, California, we are back with a vengeance for 2015. We are receiving more art theft submissions than ever before from the artistic community, which is both good and bad for obvious reasons. But, in any event, we look forward to more posting, more interacting, and more awesome art law talk this year.

To start, we have a thorny dispute involving tile design and installation work. Tiles are decorative, but are also used to cover and finish walls; they may be, in other words, “useful articles.” Recall that useful articles are usually excluded from copyright protection, so things like lamps, clothing, tools, vases, and even bongs (as decided in a recent California case) do not enjoy copyright protection unless it can be shown that an artistic feature of the useful article is “conceptually separable” from the article itself. What this means in essence is that if you separated the artistic feature from the article,  copyright protection would only attach if the feature could live a life on its own as a work of art. Do we have that below?

-AttorneyScott ([email protected])



Stephen Lindsay, a designer based in Toronto, Canada, works under the name Urban Product. He created a series of interlocking, geometric, concrete tile pieces that combine to form a swooping series of peaks and curvatures. The effect of the pieces is striking, and Stephen provided samples of the design to Studio-Collective, in response to which Studio-Collective showed great interest. But, somewhere along the way, Studio-Collective went (or was led) astray. Studio-Collective was working with one of its clients – Innovative Dining Group, a company that designs and operates restaurants and is based in Los Angeles – to design a new Sunset Strip restaurant. In doing so, Studio-Collective apparently decided at some point to pass Stephen’s work off as its own and to otherwise pretend that Stephen and his work didn’t exist. To complete the maneuver, Studio-Collective then took the unfortunate step of slapping together its “own” iteration of Stephen’s design. A comparison is below, with an extra kicker from Studio-Collective’s Instagram page, where it crows about the appealing nature of its fantastic new tile design.



Urban Product/Stephen’s work:

Studio-Collective / Innovative Dining Group’s Restaurant:

Studio-Collective Instagram :)





Posted by AttorneyScott  |  1 Comment  |  in Uncategorized

Blue Blanket’s Bandanna Bite


It is not always the large corporate chain that engages in art larceny (or, l-art-ceny, as I like to call it); sometimes it is the little guy down the block. Here, Winter Cabin designed and developed a very handsome bandanna, with numerous motifs and stylized text blocks arranged in a very particular fashion (NPI). Then, along comes the Blue Blanket crew with a product that seems to hint at, suggest, reference, or maybe just straight-up copy the style and imagery of the original. Below is the comparison:

Winter Cabin:

Blue Bandanna:

Posted by AttorneyScott  |  0 Comment  |  in Uncategorized

Shake, Shake, Shake Your Head at this Taylor Swift Fan’s “Original” Art


This one is a doozy. It all started when Taylor Swift took to Instragram to post a picture of some really sweet fan art that was sent to her by an adoring fan:

There was one pretty big problem, though, with this “original” fan art. It was not original nor was it created by the fan that sent it to T. Swift . (I guess that is two problems, not one.) In any event, the actual artist behind the foxy image, Ally Burguieres, was not too jazzed to see her artwork all up in T. Swift’s account under someone else’s name. It only got worse when the “likes” came pouring in. She objected to the post in a comment, and one of her supporters took to the web to point out the utter lame-ness of this art thievery:

Taylor Swift has yet to comment on the fracas. If you want to support the real artist behind the original work above, you should check out her website, located here:


Posted by AttorneyScott  |  4 Comments  |  in Uncategorized

Gawk in Shock at this Rock Knock-Off


Graphic designers face certain unique issues when they discover that someone has knocked off their work. The first is that the copyright laws do not grant protection to fonts. So, if a designer cooks up a fabulous-looking new font, full of embellishments and creative flourishes, that font can basically be copied verbatim by any lazy designer snooping through Google in search of a cool look (there is a narrow carve-out that allows protection for elements of a font that are themselves sufficiently creative and separable from the font). And, layouts used by graphic designers are often not unique enough to afforded protection. So, that lazy designer that has copied your font could also copy your layout, creating a piece that looks a lot like yours without running afoul of the law.

Below we have an allegation of a lift by a Texan company of an Australian’s graphic art. Is copying afoot in the Lone Star State?

-AttorneyScott ([email protected])



It looks like a US promoter of rock shows has completely knocked off a graphic designer in Australia that created the below artwork for the ROCK THE BAY that has taken place in Melbourne for the last 6 years.

This lazy Texas promoter appears to have copied the Australian promoter’s artwork lock, stock, and barrel.

The Australian promoter’s artwork is on the left, and  the Texas company, Din Productions’, artwork is on the right:


Posted by AttorneyScott  |  2 Comments  |  in Uncategorized
  • What is this place?

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