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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:

___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

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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Rue the Day!

ATTORNEYSCOTT COMMENTARY:

Shifting content from one form to another does not allow you to use that content without permission. And making small changes to another’s design does not allow you to evade liability for copying. Rue 21 apparently did not receive these particular memos, as they have lifted Valfre’s popular “Boy’s Tears” design to create a pair of earbuds. The details are below (click to enlarge):

- AttorneyScott / scott@copyrightLA.com

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suga3

TOPSHOP / KUCCIA’S OUTRAGEOUS ART RIP

ATTORNEYSCOTT COMMENTARY:

An artist earns a copyright the moment he or she fixes their particular method of expression in a tangible medium. In other words, once you paint it, draw it, sculpt it, or otherwise create it, you have copyrights in it.

US Copyright Office registration is nice, and has all sorts of benefits, as we will discuss in a future post, but a lack of such a registration does not in any way denude an artist of his or her rights. Perhaps TopShop and Kuccia, the parties responsible for the below rip of original art by Sugar Bones (her real art), were unaware of how copyrights accrued, or maybe just thought we wouldn’t notice.

But, here we are, another fast fashion company playing fast and loose with an artist’s intellectual property rights. A comp of the TopShop / Kuccia garment and Sugar Bones’ artwork is below (click for detail):

- ATTORNEYSCOTT / scott@copyrightLA.com

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orig

Killa Bart Art Snatched by Ruvilla

ATTORNEYSCOTT COMMENTARY:

(contactable at: scott@copyrightLA.com)

When artist Chas Truslow developed his killa twist on the well-known Bart Simpson character, he had no idea it would go viral. But it did, in a major way, with fans going so far as having the artwork tattooed on their bodies. And as the online popularity increased so did the artwork’s appeal to companies that trade in knock-offs.

Ruvilla, an East Coast retail chain, swiped Truslow’s artwork and plastered it on shirts that it marketed and sold to its customers. Morally, this is obviously outrageous, but is it also a violation of the Copyright Act? To address this query, we have to delve into the sphere of derivative works, one of the Act’s more tricky little crannies. Let’s start with the statute, shall we? It says: “a work based upon one or more pre-existing works, such as a[n] … art reproduction … or any other form in which a work may be recast, transformed, or adapted. A work consisting of editorial revisions, annotations, elaborations, or other modifications which, as a whole, represent an original work of authorship, is a “derivative work[,]” and subject to protection. So, Truslow’s work, which recasts the Bart character (yes, characters are subject to copyright) as a pink-robe wearing, cell-phone hustling player in the style of a certain Harlem-bred hip hop artist, and is an original rendering drawn by Truslow, most likely qualifies as a derivative work subject to protection.

How far this protection ranges is a more nuanced question. The Copyright Act provides guidance here as well: “the copyright in a derivative work “extends only to the material contributed by the author of such work, as distinguished from the preexisting material employed in the work.”” Taking the statute at face value, as we must, teaches that Truslow is entitled not to a copyright in the Bart character but to what he has added – the coat, hat, phone, and other additions drawn by him. While this copyright protection may not be robust, it would most likely allow him to bring a case against somebody that copied the artwork, especially if Fox and Matt Groening got onboard. Has that situation arisen? Below, top, is Truslow’s artwork. Below, bottom, is a garment marketed for sale by Ruvila:


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kohls rip

Dog-gone it, Kohls!

ATTORNEYSCOTT COMMENTARY:

When it comes to artwork depicting animals, courts have to weigh the public’s ability to draw the common features of an animal – the big ears of an elephant, the long neck of a giraffe – against an artist’s rights in her particular depiction of those features. It is the stylistic additions to the common tropes or general features of the animals that are protectable. Here, we have a case involving the apparent taking of an artist’s expression in regard to her adorable depiction of cutesy canines. On the right you will find her images; on the left you will find the apparent rip. While the artist certainly does not have a monopoly on drawing dogs, she absolutely has a right to protect her particular expression as seen below (click on image to see artwork in detail).

- ATTORNEYSCOTT (scott@copyrightLA.com)

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Francesca's Infringement

Francesca’s is Very Hungry – Bites Styles of Many

ATTORNEYSCOTT COMMENTARY:

Today’s post details what appears to be a massive infringement by mass-market retailer Francesca’s. Many an artist have had their designs lifted, it would seem. And, Francesca’s did not think these artists would notice? Click the below image to see all the horrifying details up-close (if you dare).

-AttorneyScott (scott@copyrightLA.com)
***

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