Friday, February 20, 2009

What is copyright infringement?

[UPDATED WITH NEW LINKS] In the newest edition of Obe Lincoln, I take on the hot topic of copyright infringement as it pertains to the Shepard Fairey Obama HOPE poster.

I drew the above picture freehand, obviously copying the Shepard Fairey Obama HOPE poster, which copied Mannie Garcia's (or the AP's) photo. I changed the image to add Baxter Orr's SARS mask. I used ink pens that weren't the same color as the Fairey poster, so I put it on Photoshop to adjust the colors to be closer to Fairey's colors (and to deal with the shortcomings of my crappy scanner). Any difference between this image and Fairey's image is a result of my failure to draw it perfectly freehand, not a result of a conscious attempt to make a significant transformation.

So, am I guilty of copyright infringement?

If you haven't been following the AP/Garcia v Fairey copyright lawsuit(s?), then you're missing out. I'm not a lawyer, but it's pretty fascinating stuff in terms of the questions that arise about art, photography, copyright, ownership, access, appropriation, theft, hypocrisy, consistency, ethics, greed, and creation. Not a bad list, eh? Check it out:

AP threatens to sue Fairey.
Fairey sues the AP.
Fairey's Obey Giant website.
Fairey on Charlie Rose.
Hypocrisy? Fairey threatens to sue Orr.
Orr had appropriated and changed Obey Giant with a SARS mask.
A discussion on copyright and fair use law.
The law.
More discussion on the law.
A blogging copyright lawyer weighs in.
Another blogging copyright lawyer weighs in.
The debate is on,
And on,
And on,
And on,
And on.
And then there's parody. One of the landmark cases about parody is Leibovitz v Paramount Pictures, in which the Naked Gun 33&1/3 parody of the pregnant Demi Moore Vanity Fair cover was upheld as fair use.
Here are a few other interesting cases.
And if all that doesn't have you confused yet, check out this article that points out that parody is protected, but satire is not. I hope the writer of that article, Jesse Walker, won't mind if I quote this insightful analysis:

"In the press or the academy, it's considered normal for more than one interpretation of a piece of art to coexist. In a courtroom, only one interpretation will enjoy the blessing of the law, and there's no guarantee that a judge playing critic for a day will agree with [the defendant's] subtle analysis."

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

VTK's White Whale: Put Herman Melville's House On A US Quarter

Whosoever of ye raises me a white-headed whale with a wrinkled brow and a crooked jaw; whosoever of ye raises me that white-headed whale, with three holes punctured in his starboard fluke- look you, whosoever of ye raises me that same white whale, he shall have this gold ounce, my boys!

Forget the gold ounce, boys and girls. I've seen the White Whale of the Blogosphere. And it's reward will take the form of a silvery fifth of an ounce, no less valuable to ye sailors of the internet. How so? It is no mere American 25 cent piece; it is a quarter dollar of legal tender that can finally pay proper homage to the author of Moby Dick and the house in which he penned the whale tale - the Arrowhead estate in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. Pay homage to the house and pay dividends for your VTK captain.

You may know that I'm from Pittsfield. Some have suggested I'm obsessed with my hometown. What you may not know is that one of my more impressive skills is my ability to get from any statement to a Herman Melville reference in three sentences. Go ahead, try me. As you can imagine, having Arrowhead on the tail side of a US quarter would be invaluable to a word hunter like myself - infinitely more valuable than its stated worth of 25 cents. Whosoever of ye joins with me to flip the white head of the American quarter to put Arrowhead on its tail, he or she shall have that silvery fifth of an ounce, my boys and girls. Doubt me not - I'd strike the sun if it insulted me.

Here's the deal from the website: In a successor to the 50 States Quarters Program, the U.S. Mint, in a nationwide program, has asked Governor Patrick to select one preferred and three alternate Massachusetts national sites to be featured on the reverse of a quarter. Beginning in 2010, the Mint will release five new quarter designs annually based on the order in which the selected sites gained federal designation. Governor Patrick is calling on the people of Massachusetts to help with this decision. It's right there in black and white, VTKids. The white head of Washington beckons you to determine the destiny of his tail. Go to the site to vote for "Herman Melville House, Pittsfield", which is under Berkshire County. You can vote as many times as you want. It's going to take more than one harpoon to fell this White Whale.

And if Deval Patrick denies the democratic voice of VTKountry, which will surely be heard in this vote, if he doesn't put Arrowhead on a US quarter, well, God help him. I'll follow him around the Horn, and around the Norway maelstrom, and around perdition's flames before I give him up.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Tommy Dasche Raphael

I like Tom Daschle and I think he would have been a great Secretary of Health and Human Services and all, but perhaps it's for the best. There are legitimate questions about his judgment.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Adios Muchachos

New cartoon up on Obe Lincoln:

I'm still playing around with the style, direction, etc. of this political cartooning idea, but I know one thing for sure: I'm ecstatic that this is my first and last cartoon featuring Captain Conflict and the Duke of Discord.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Two Title Town

Thanks to an epic last minute drive culminating in this catch, the Steelers are world champs again! And VTK is a two title town. Three cheers for the three rivers of Pittsburgh.