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A Pink Panther Plucking? Copyright and Derivative Works

ATTORNEYSCOTT COMMENTARY:

17 U.S. Code § 106(2) of the Copyright Act that protects the author’s exclusive right to prepare derivative works. One effect of this provision is that if one creates a work that incorporates a pre-existing work, the resulting copyright protection only extends as far as what one adds, in terms of new, original, copyrightable authorship, to the underlying work. Here, we have a case where an artist created his interpretation of the classic Pink Panther character. Now, of course, his take on the Pink Panther does not give him copyrights in the Pink Panther character. But, it does give him rights in the original creative material that he has authored. And, if someone were to lift that material, a copyright claim may be found. The key, however, is in ascertaining whether what has been lifted is original and creative. See below and compare the pieces for yourself to see if the line has been crossed.

-ATTORNEYSCOTT / scott@copyrightLA.com / @veniceartlaw
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orig

Revolve with the Rip

AttorneyScott Commentary:

Revolve, an L.A.-based clothing company that relies on artists and designers to create the product it hawks on its series of websites, would not necessarily come readily to mind when you think of the more egregious fashion industry offenders. But, recent evidence indicates that that may be changing. Today we have an example of a Revolve “designer” clearly biting the style as well as the total look and feel of another artist’s original work and using that work for a Revolve sales page. You can find the comparison below.

-AttorneyScott / scott@copyrightLA.com / @VeniceArtLaw
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Anna Santaguida’s original work:

And Revolve’s piece:

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orig

Sweatin’ the TekNeek

ATTORNEYSCOTT COMMENTARY:

Musicians work hard to write, perform, and produce their tracks, there is no doubt. They certainly understand the value of artwork and the labor that must be expended to create something new. So, it is always confounding when we here at YTWWN get word of a musician snaking another artist’s work to use on their album or single covers. There is little doubt that this is copyright infringement, yet some musicians don’t think twice before exploiting another’s work without consent. See below for the latest example.

- AttorneyScott / scott@copyrightLA.com / @veniceartlaw

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Otis Chamberlin’s original piece:

The use without consent, by rapper TekNeek, as displayed on his BandCamp page, a site that caters to emerging artists:

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ru

Forever 21 Takes a Big Bite

ATTORNEYSCOTT COMMENTARY:

Forever 21 is no stranger to copyright infringement disputes. Its fast fashion philosophy and disregard for intellectual property rights have resulted in Forever 21 being named as a defendant in a hefty number of copyright infringement cases. Some of Forever 21′s bites, though, while clearly a violation in principle, have not been technical breaches of the Copyright Act. This is most often because Forever 21 has copied a silhouette, and silhouettes, or the overall shapes, of garments are not protectable by copyright law in the United States (unlike in Italy, France, and other countries with robust design communities). The below would probably fit into this latter category (click each image to enlarge and see the exactitude of the copying of the details):

- ATTORNEYSCOTT / scott@copyrightLA.com

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A top by local designer Are You Am I:

Forever’s 21′s top:

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MAMz

MAM Originals – Ironic Branding?

ATTORNEYSCOTT COMMENTARY:

Today’s issue comes all the way from Spain, where a watch company named MAM Originals apparently took interest in the artwork of Kelsey McClellan, some of which can be found here: http://kelseymcclellan.com/wardrobe-snacks

MAM Originals created an advertising video that appears to be heavily inspired, at the very least, by Ms. McClellan’s work, Wardrobe Snacks. Below, you will find frame grabs, with Ms. Mclellan’s work on the left, and stills from the MAM Originals video on the right. Similarities right down to the bivalves. MAM Originals has not yet commented on the situation. Developing.

-Attorney Scott / scott@copyrightLA.com

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Click image to enlarge:

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cimone / odlr

Oscar de la Renta Looks to Last Season

ATTORNEYSCOTT COMMENTARY:

Sometimes, the law falls short when addressing wrongs, both in general and in connection with protecting the fruits of one’s creativity. As we have oft-noted, ideas are not covered by copyright law; it is only the expression of the idea that is protectable in court. Unfortunately, this leaves emerging and talented designers vulnerable for exploitation. If an established fashion house takes notice of your progressive, unique, and original idea, as expressed on your designs, and takes the idea but tweaks the expression, there is often little that can be done legally to seek redress for this wrong.

Which brings us to today’s apparent art-jacking. Cimone is a small British independent label, led by creative director Carli Pearson, formerly of Wang, Pucci, and Stella. Their Spring / Summer 2017 line, which they debuted in Fall 2016, employed a cohesive design concept that presented embroidered paint splashes as key embellishments on otherwise white garments. While Cimone was not the first to use Pollock-ian splashing in their design, they certainly expressed the concept in a unique way. And it appears that somebody at Oscar De la Renta took notice, as their Spring / Summer 2018 line, which recently debuted, certainly bears a striking resemblance to Cimone’s pieces. See for yourself below (click to enlarge photograph):

- AttorneyScott / email: scott@copyrightLA.com / insta: @veniceartlaw

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banana

Aren’t You Glad I Didn’t Say Banana

ATTORNEYSCOTT COMMENTARY:

As we’ve seen many times in the past, the immediacy of the internet and the ease at which art can be right-clicked and saved-as (or whatever the Mac equivalent is) has led to a tidal wave of copyright infringement. The problem is particularly fierce when the art at issue is especially compelling or quirky or possesses other characteristics that lend themselves to viral-ity. Artist Brittany Wright has been the victim of such infringement, as a number of her original and proprietary photographs have been misappropriated by others and posted and published online, often with no indication that she is the original author. In one particularly egregious situation, someone copied her photograph, added some numbers to it, and then when caught claimed to now own the work as result of the added numbers. Fortunately, due to the litigation efforts of other artists who have experienced similar theft and stood up to the infringers, the courts are now more welcoming to artists like Brittany. A few examples of the misappropriation are set forth below:

Original Work by Ms. Wright:

Unauthorized Use:

Original Work by Ms. Wright:

Unauthorized Use:

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For further study, you can read my column on copyright and viral content here: http://abovethelaw.com/2017/09/doing-it-for-the-gram/

Don’t let the biters get you down – keep creating!

-AttorneyScott / email: scott@copyrightLA.com / insta: @veniceartlaw

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Stone Cold

ATTORNEYSCOTT COMMENTARY:

While most art law cases trigger application of copyright law, today’s alleged malfeasance has more of a trademark vibe to it. That is because fonts are generally exempted from copyright protection, and logos are generally covered by trademark. See below for what’s going down.

-AttorneyScott / Email: scott@copyrightLA.com / Instagram: @veniceartlaw
***

Exhibit A:
The Stone Fox
A beloved bar and music venue in Nashville, TN from 2012 – 2016.

Exhibit B:
The Stone Fox
A vintage store in Bellingham, WA. Looks familiar.

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Coasting Along on the Hard Work of Others

ATTORNEY SCOTT COMMENTARY / scott@copyrightLA.com:

The coaster game is a rugged one, and competitors are not above borrowing artwork that it thinks will lead to an advantage in obtaining more of that sweet, sweet, drink placement dough. Below appears to be one example of a company going a bit too far. From a legal perspective, it is important to remember that short phrases are often not protectable by copyright, and the same goes for basic shapes. But, the creative selection and arrangement of otherwise unprotectable elements can lead to copyright protection. Compare the works at issue here (click to enlarge):

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Tongue Thai-d

ATTORNEY SCOTT COMMENTARY:

Thailand-based garment company Wear We Met was apparently taken with RIPNDIP’s cheeky kitty artwork and decided to play a game of cat’s-got-your-copyright. Evidence is below (WWM on top/ RIPNDIP below):

-AttorneyScott / scott@copyrightLA.com

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  • What is this place?

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