photo courtesy of theartnewspaper.com
Our super-secret inside sources (read: Twitter) told us this morning that, surprise, surprise, Mr. Brainwash aka Thierry Guetta, after making millions from his Pop Art inspired series of prints, has been slapped with an infringement lawsuit from the photographer of an iconic Run DMC photograph that Brainwash had appropriated for one of his works. From The Art Newspaper:
LOS ANGELES. Street artist Thierry Guetta, better known as Mr Brain wash, is being sued by a photographer for copyright in fringement over a well-known image of rap group Run DMC (which we were unfortunately not allowed to reproduce for this article). Lawyers acting for photographer Glen Friedman say Guetta reproduced his 1985 photograph without authorisation and used it in unique works of art, prints and promotional material, including postcards for his 2008 debut exhibition in Los Angeles, “Life Is Beautiful”. Friedman’s lawyer, Douglas Linde, says they are entitled to a share of “indirect profits” from the exhibition. Linde is seeking unspecified damages for “damage to [Friedman’s] business in the form of diversion of trade, loss of income and profits, and a dilution of the value of its rights”. (full article here)
Yeah Thursdays kind of always drifts into street art hoo-hah for some reason… So Guetta is citing “fair use” for his argument, no surprises there, but again this is just the kind environment that we live in. Appropriation has a reached in point in America where it’s the lifeblood of basically all culture. You see the basic elements of form, color, image, shape, perspective reused, repeated and remixed in every industry from fashion, manufacturing, textiles, bicycles etc. The big fuss in a capitalist-driven society comes when you finally make money from it, then all the haters and sensitive photographers come out of the woodworks for a slice of the pie. The reason? The law. Copyright law is basically designed to protect the originator, which is essentially the complete inverse of the progression of art movements, particularly when you have that undertone of social commentary and appropriation built into something like street or Pop Art. Until we can recognize that everything is derivative, and to judge the merits of artistic work in terms of progression rather than outright evaluation, we’ll always be confined by the system. Ennui’s Prediction: Resolved out of court for an undisclosed sum. (see precedent)
Anyway, great article and food for thought.