An artist is afforded protection for the original elements she creates, and is also afforded protection for the creative decisions made in selecting, arranging, and depicting each of the elements. So, if you spy an artwork made of multiple elements, and you fancy that artwork, you will not be in good shape (legally) if you attempt to swap out each of the elements of the artwork with new, similar elements that you have found or even created.
This is because the artist’s protection in the original work extends past the elements to their selection and arrangement. Below, we see two works art, one of which looks to have been created through the employment of some creative swapping.
- AttorneyScott / scott@copyrightLA.com
StrangeBirdDesigns created this lovely work of collage and original expression, which it offered to its clients and customers:
Later, it discovered that those art framers at Michaels were offering something that StrangeBird must have thought looked a lot familiar:
To me, it looks far too close for comfort.