The message on the website didn't look to dissimilar to those you see on many websites with respect to who to contact if you want to reproduce the art. What was different was that the link went straight to a firm of lawyers in the USA who specialised in copyright and trademark infringement. Suddenly one new that this particular artist meant business - in the literal sense.
Every so often I sit down and look to see what's emerged on the Internet with respect to copyright. This post identifies some useful articles about recent copyright infringements - plus how to find a lawyer who specialises in this type of law!
I'll be adding summaries of these cases to my new website. Much of what I have written previously about copyright and other useful articles can be found on the Copyright for Artists page on my new website Art Business Info. for Artists.
Copyright Infringement and Lawsuits involving Artists
There seem to be more and more prosecutions related to artists copying artists. This last month there have been four involving well known names.
It's interesting to read articles about the lawsuits relating to copyright infringement as these tend to reflect the current state of the marketplace and the legal world when it comes to what is considered a worthwhile case to fight.
Plus the outcomes for those who go to law - and get it wrong!
Litigant Mitchel Gray vs Jeff Koons
- Jeff Koons sued for copyright infringement over gin ad photo | The Telegraph
- Jeff Koons Sued Yet Again Over Copyright Infringement | ArtNet News
- Jeff Koons sued for appropriating 1980s gin ad in art work sold for millions | The Guardian
It alleges that Jeff Koons used a New York photographer's commercial photo taken in 1986 for an advertisement in two editions and anArtists's Proof of I Could Go For Something Gordon’s (1986) without permission or compensation. Koons has a significant history in terms of copyright infringement litigation.
The auction house Phillips is also being sued because it handled the sale of the Artist's Proof in 2008 for $2.08 million.
Litigant Donald Graham vs Richard Prince and the Gagosian Gallery
- Outraged Photographer Sues Gagosian Gallery and Richard Prince for Copyright Infringement | ArtNetNews
- Why Experts Say the Latest Copyright Lawsuit Against Richard Prince Matters | ArtNet News
- Controversial artist Richard Prince sued for copyright infringement | The Guardian
The internationally renowned photographer Donald Graham is suing Richard Prince (who has previously been sued by photographers) for copyright infringement. The claim is that he reproduced his photo without seeking permission. It's not as if it was difficult to find out how to contact Mr Graham.
|the contact page on Donald Graham's website|
- the market impact of the infringement
- new work that includes significant commentary
- the issue of transformation (there is very little change to the image - it's only cropped in a minor way - this is the original picture and this article includes a photograph of the Prince version of the image as part of an exhibition by Prince at the Gagosian Gallery)
It is a basic rule of copyright law that infringement is measured not by how much the alleged infringer added but by the amount of the copyrighted work that he took Stanford Law School professor Paul GoldsteinInterestingly I couldn't find the contested image on either the Gagosian Gallery website (which contains none of the Instagram type images by Prince) or on Prince's website. I wonder why.....
The case follows on from the alternative response by an artist who also had a photograph appropriated - see Richard Prince v Suicide Girls in an Instagram price war - where the artist started to offer prints of her Instagram post for $90 after she found that Richard Prince had been offering them for $90,000 at the Frieze Art fair.
Litigant Ally Burguieres vs Taylor Swift
- Taylor Swift faces painting copyright row | BBC
- Artist accuses Taylor Swift of COPYING her design to promote her 1989 album | Daily Mirror
The case seems to revolve around a fan copying the artwork, adding some words and then posting it on social media and sending it to Ms Swift. Then everything got rather messy......
It rather goes to show the problems of using other people's artwork to create artwork of your own.
It's also a fascinating counterpoint to the Richard Prince case where it would seem he has done the same thing as the fan. Except of course he is selling his works via the Gagosian Gallery for very large sums.
Litigant: The FBI (re. Kungfu Panda and Dreamworks) vs Jayme Gordon
This is a tale of what happens when an amateur artist brings a copyright lawsuit - but the facts presented in the claim don't actually stack up when examined!
- Failed 'Kung Fu Panda' Copyright Lawsuit Lands Artist in Court | ArtNew News
- US man accused of Kung Fu Panda fraud | BBC - a simple overview of the case
Associations of lawyers specialising in intellectual property
I've known a number of artists in the last ten years who have had to deal with major issues relating to people copying their work to derive an income.
At some point you might become one of those people and need a lawyer - and here are a couple of places you might look for one.
- The Intellectual Property Lawyers Assocation (previously known as the Patent Solicitors Association) - Its members are law firms in England and Wales with an established practice and litigation record in intellectual property. (Note Intellectual property is the overarching terms which covers copyright, trademarks and patents)
- American Intellectual Property Law Association - this association represents a wide and diverse spectrum of individuals. They work in private and corporate practice, in government service, and in the academic community. They are involved in all matters relating to intellectual property law including patent, trademark, copyright, trade secret, and unfair competition law.