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Who Ya Gonna Call?


Parody art, especially when used on apparel or other products, presents a particular sticky set of legal issues. Technically, art of this nature is what’s known in legal circles as “derivative works,” meaning new art that is created from, or incorporates, pre-existing creative material or intellectual property. Notably, the right to create a derivative work is one of the bundle of rights that is exclusive to the owner of the underlying art. But, an artist is entitled to seek protection for the creative material that is added to the underlying art (as opposed to the whole piece).

Trademark issues are also implicated to the extent the use of the material being parodied will create consumer confusion as to whether the parodied party approved or sponsored the parody product.

Today’s entry is an interesting dispute in this realm. Don’t get slimed!

-AttorneyScott ([email protected])



Parody logo t-shirts are big business these days.

What About Yves has knowingly stolen House of Diehl’s Chanel x Ghostbusters design, and is selling it to major retailers worldwide.

House of Diehl is a longstanding NYC-based fashion-art organization who has been featured in the New York Times, The LA Times, and the London Times, and has been exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art, MA, The Museum of the City of New York, and with Creative Time. Some press:

House of Diehl’s Chanel x Ghostbusters design has been offered for sale since 2011:

The House of Diehl t-shirt appeared in the New York Times on Dec 12, 2013, attributed to House of Diehl

What About Yves then “launched” their identical Ghostbusters design in January 2014.

A comparison of the products are below:



Recasting in the Digital Age


One of the exclusive rights granted to an artist when she creates an original work  is the right to “transform” or “recast” that work in ways she sees fit. That precludes others from, say, taking one’s painting of a unicorn and making unicorn stuffed animals based on the painting. Below, we have a very modern example of alleged unauthorized “transformation” and “recasting.” Read on.

- Scott A. Burroughs, Esq. ( [email protected] )



Quite a lot of activity ensued on Facebook Recently when High Street Gallery posted details of an upcoming art exhibition by Artist Lynn Howarth on Facebook page I know this Great Little Place In Glasgow.

Some visitors remarked “wow” at the posting of the lady’s art but one or two comments were more inquisitive. “Is this an edited photo?” someone enquired. The answer from High Street Gallery representative David Johnston was that no, Ms Howarth’s art was all freehand and on ipad.


Really. Well that’s astounding. It appears we have a new art legend in our midst. Although if you compare her digital art to her traditional art there seems to be  more than a slight difference in skill level. As some digi-artheads got together and started rummaging around Ms Howarths own website things became interesting. Her Facebook pages (linked from her art website) were even more interesting. Gasps from various visitors enquiring “My goodness is that a painting”? were met with yes. Apparently you only have to look closely to see the brush strokes and the sitters were also very patient. Apparently.


Digital Painting - not photography based.


Now the iPad (which this was created on) is good and the art packages are great as any digi-artist will tell you. No need for great cumbersome digitisers etc. This painting however, and we are not saying it is, but let’s just say we are more than a little convinced it’s a photo-manip….but did she forget the eyes? There is other very telling detail if you look closely….and we did.

So we got suspicious to the integrity of this whole thing. Some quick searching came up with this:-

I's A Freehand Drawing FFS!

Claimed to be a freehand drawing


Abbozzo image on the left, Ms Howarths “Freehand Drawing” on the right.

We couldn’t resist in our excited little group sticking this up on a HUGE monitor and checking it out. It’s a photomanip with some kind of drawing or tracing on top, that goes without question but the interesting thing was the copyright.  It belonged to Architects Abbozzo.

Two of our members are photographers and this was enough to get them, lets say, a bit pissed. The hunt continued…..

I't A Freehand Drawing remember

I't A Freehand Drawing remember

This one was quite spectacular.

There were more…..

By this point, one of our members started posting on the High Street Gallery Facebook Page. The posts were removed but some stayed for a while. We decided it was the right thing to do to contact the copyright owners.

Now, YouThought We Wouldn’t Notice states that it is not really about artist against artist, but this gallery owners attitude turned out to be appalling. Ms Howarth may be niaive at best, but the way this next guy was treated is dispicable.

Another Freehand Sketch!

Original by photographer on the left and Ms Howarths  freehand sketch on the right. Unfortunately the quality on this is poor as it was pulled quickly.

The photographer (who has requested that his name be removed) contacted High Street Gallery but was shocked to find that the gallery were standing by their artist. The photographer stated that the gallery defended Ms Howarth. He also pointed out that far from being naive, Ms Howrths own website is covered with copyright symbols on her own work so she is clearly aware.

And if you think all this doesn’t matter – we reckon there were around 10 images in this show at least (We had another fantastic copyright breach of George Square in Glasgow but it too was pulled quickly). Ten images with say an edition of say 500 selling at 100 pounds sterling. That’s a total of half a million in turnover. Surely it’s right that some of this goes to the creator of the true original?

This, of course, does not deal with the fact that digital art is presented as painting when it is photography based photomanipulation or tracing.

Ms Howarth has even done a demo at an iPad store. I wonder what Apple would think?

The only funny thing about all this, her exhibition was called Mi Art (as in My Art but with an iPad twist).

We will be watching.

UPDATE High Street Gallery, further to the glaring copyright infringement cancelled the Lynn Howarth Exhibition. At this time we cannot confirm if they are still selling the questionable prints.



Prolific Ripping

Note: None of these ripped items are mine, but they belong to numerous creative individuals out there, only a few can I identify, perhaps you might be able to identify some of the other art and help inform the original owners. Work is stolen all the time and put on desktop wallpaper websites and the like, but this individual is trying to pass off this work as his own to fraudulently get jobs. So not cool.

Once upon a time there was a young man by the name of Brett Bash. He liked to claim he was a graphic designer extraordinaire, photographer, and all around visionary artist. He would go on to claim developed several high-profile websites, include Marc Ecko’s website (as referenced here, specifically @ 1:32). The unfortunate thing is that Brett Bash’s personal portfolios were just lousy with work he had ripped from other artists, companies, and even stock photography websites. Yes, he bought (probably found on a blog, though) stock photography to put in his portfolio.

He would claim that he was this amazing model photographer to chat up potential models to perhaps do a session with him. Which if you think about it, is very creepy, and possibly dangerous to these young women who would think they’re working with an established professional, only to end up in the “studio” of a poser for a “photo shoot.” I’m sure you can see the problem there.

Here’s a quote from his website:

Hi. My name is Brett Bash. Slick and sleek, I capture polished images that sell beauty, rendering a reality in far greater definition than the eye may even comprehend. At its best, photography carves out a world through light and shadow that represents reality transformed, beyond a document, simulating the physical complete with a sense of space, time, weight and corporeal properties Through rich, sensual color, my works exhale a sense of life; through a complex tonal range, I capture moments. Shooting stunning models, beautiful cars, and magnificent scenery, I have one finger on the shutter release, and another on the future.

Funny enough, that is also stolen. It’s part of Wendy Whitesell’s artist bio. His thievery knows. no. bounds.

Early in 2011 a small design forum caught wind of what he was up to with all of his design thievery, and started contacting him to remove his stolen work. Eventually after a good Google Bombing and lots verbal tongue lashing, he eventually took his website offline. It was the end of some pretty prolific ripping. Or so was thought.

Eventually he came back with a vengence. While his original portfolio (, is devoid of the ripped work from before, and now mostly focuses on what is to be believed his actual breadth of work – mostly car related ads, brochures, flyers – he has several new sites up with new stolen work. One is his photography portfolio, and another is his digital/traditional art portfolio

Here’s a few examples of the work he’s ripped off across a few of his various websites, as of May 4, 2011:

#1 Original Artist: Lvnel at

#2 Original Artist: P0RG at

#3 Original Artist: asdfgfunky at

#4 Original Artist:

#5 Original Artist: Dave E. Phillips at

#6 Original Artist: Wen-M at

#7 Original Artist: Zach Bush

#8 Original Artist: i-evermind at

I just don’t know what to do. This kind of thing just isn’t right and needs to be stopped.

My Photo, My Daughter…

So this painter was a student of my mothers good friend. the picture made it from my mother to her friend to the artist, then onto the canvas. I was never contacted or asked if it was OK.

and he is selling it for $2700

I am the photographer… I am a photographer… it is how I pay my bills… I just find the painters behaviour in this matter offensive. do you reckon I should be upset?

oh this is the artist statement…

My work is about the varied journeys we take through life. It’s about growing up and living in a world that is broken. These paintings are about trauma, fear and loneliness and the strength that it takes to survive and thrive. They each contain the contrast of the untainted, young and innocent against a backdrop of a worn, ragged, and defiled world. Support versus restraint, bondage versus freedom, and tension versus slack are all themes that I often visit. My work deals with isolation, loneliness and longing teamed with a level of optimistic hope. Issues of race and the division of wealth have arisen in my recent work. This work deals with the idea of rigid boundaries, the hopeful breakdown of such restrictions, as well as questions about the forces that orchestrate our behavior.

Radiohead Music Video Contest Winner Rips Off Monkmus

I’m a big fan of Radiohead and recently saw one of their latest music videos which reminded me of a video I saw for Los Campesinos!  At first look, the similarities are not so glaring because the animated techniques used in the videos are different, but upon closer examination, I had to say hmmmm.  Below is a summary of my findings.  (I want to clearly state here that I am NOT questioning Radiohead’s artistic integrity in any way, as they merely chose the winners of the contest based on the ideas pitched to them by the contestants).

Radiohead’s music video by Clement Picon for the track “Reckoner” from their latest album “In Rainbows” became the official vid for the track after it was chosen as one of the four grand prize winners in an animated music video contest held in 2008. The video has the same concept as the music vid for Los Campesinos!, “You! Me! Dancing!” by director/animator Monkmus, released in spring 2007. Looking past the difference in the format and techniques used, and apart from the concept being the same (trees first grow on barren land, houses are built, followed by cities, then everything is destroyed, then there is regrowth, etc.), there are shots in Picon’s video that are exactly the same as in Monkmus’ video, including the closing shot – see diagram below. All this combined make it tough to dismiss it as mere coincidence.

Los Camp vs. Radiohead

YOUTUBE: You! Me! Dancing!
YOUTUBE: Reckoner

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