Archive for the fair use Tag

When Is It a Rip-Off?

Posted by Scott

Hot on the heels of our recent, and thoroughly rousing, discussion on the subject, I came across B.Caruther’s gallery of “inspired” designs and their original counterparts. I thought it was an interesting illustration of the the whole concept of “borrowing” artwork. If you’re going to make the argument that someone like Shepard Fairey is stealing (and therefore their work has no merit), you would have to make the exact same argument for each and every one of these and the countless others out there.

Sure, that argument would be pretty easy for a lot of them. Many are sort of tongue-in-cheek riffs on design classics while others are what I would characterize and blatant rip-offs. But some do stand up as something new and engaging for reasons other than the imagery they borrow. The “Clockers” poster is a perfect example. Yes, it borrows heavily from Bass’ original, but it takes the imagery and re contextualizes it in a way that creates something fresh and provocative. Nevertheless, Bass regarded the poster as a “rip-off” while it’s creator, Art Sims, called it an homage [source]. I guess with an issue as subjective as this, people will never reach consensus, but it’s fun to try!

AP Sues Shepard Fairey

Posted by Scott

It was only a matter of time I guess. It seems like we just learned the source of Shepard Fairey’s iconic image for the Obama campaign and now Fairey himself is being sued by Associated Press for his appropriation of the image. This is when sorting out exactly what qualifies as “fair use” starts to get a little tricky. Fairey says he didn’t make any money from the image (frankly, I don’t see how that’s possible, but I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt), but AP alleges he made a boatload of it. Whatever the case may be, credit is due to the original photographer, but I don’t believe Fairey should be held liable for his use of the image. I think it could be — and hopefully will be — successfully argued that Fairey modified the image sufficiently. What do you think, does vecotrizing and coloring an image go far enough to differentiate the artistic product from the source? Sound off in the comments.

Update: Supertouch has posted a sort of official response to the general criticism Fairey has endured of late. Definitely worth a read if you took the time to read all the detractor’s sites.

Image via stevesimula