Artist ‘disgusted’ by appearance of her watercolour in ‘Broadchurch’ episode

An artist whose painting was featured in an episode of ‘Broadchurch’ is demanding £10,000 in compensation from the show’s producers.

Angela Hewitt from the Isle of Wight feels her “work has been abused” by Kudos, the makers of the ITV crime drama. Kudos did not seek Hewitt’s permission to feature her £125 watercolour of a cockerel as part of the set in a scene from the third series. The artwork appears onscreen for five seconds hanging on the wall in the home of rape suspect, Ed Burnett, played by Sir Lenny Henry. Although Burnett was eventually found not guilty, Hewitt believes the appearance of her work could damage her reputation as it has become “associated with a show about rape”.  Continue reading

McDonald’s slapped with lawsuit by New York graffiti artist

McDonald’s is being sued by the estate of late graffiti artist Dashiell ‘Dash’ Snow for copyright infringement in the latest legal battle over street art.

Lawyers for ‘Secret Snow’, as the artist was also known, allege that the restaurant mega-chain infringed his copyright when it used an image from Snow’s work to decorate the interior of its fast-food outlets. The complaint was filed in the United States Central District Court of California on 3 October 2016.  Continue reading

Why Google is in trouble with Getty Images

The US-based photo agency Getty Images has filed a competition lawsuit with the European Commission against Google.

Getty Images accusation focuses on changes made in 2013 to Google Images. Instead of thumbnails, the search engine now displays high-resolution images that have been “scraped” from third party websites.

A statement released by Getty Images states: “Because image consumption is immediate, once an image is displayed in high-resolution, large format, there is little impetus to view the image on the original source site. These changes have allowed Google to reinforce its role as the internet’s dominant search engine, maintaining monopoly over site traffic, engagement data and advertising spend. This has also promoted piracy, resulting in widespread copyright infringement, turning users into accidental pirates.”

The complaint follows the image agency’s submission in June 2015, when it acted as an interested third party in support of the European Commission’s investigation into Google’s anti-competitive business practice.

“Google’s behavior is adversely affecting not only our contributors, but the lives and livelihoods of artists around the world,” says Getty Images’ General Counsel, Yoko Miyashita.

It adds to the mounting charges against Google from the EU, the most recent of which concerned the dominant position of its Android operating system.

Google has so far declined to comment on this latest lawsuit.

Will Prince reign supreme once again over US copyright law?

Has appropriation artist and agent provocateur Richard Prince finally crossed the line between fair use and copyright infringement?

One artist is prepared to fight tooth and nail to prove he has. Outraged by Prince’s unauthorised use of his work, photographer Donald Graham filed a complaint against Prince, Gagosian Gallery who represents him and Larry Gagosian, the gallery’s owner,  in New York federal court last month (30 December 2015). Continue reading

Handbags and glad rags – The (trade)mark of quality

Edie Parker, the New York fashion brand that produces clutch handbags popular with many celebrities, has taken Box Bag, another handbag company, to court in New York.

The complaint?

Box Bag has allegedly “parasitically” copied Edie Parker, producing and selling clutches that bare a stark resemblance to their copyrighted designs. Box Bag’s offerings are also undercutting Edie Parker, selling at one tenth of the price. Continue reading

Batmobile appeal: US Court pledges to stand up to the villains of copyright

How does a US Court of Appeals judge respond when tasked with determining the legal fate of a beloved comic book super car? “Holy copyright law, Batman!”

In a decision handed down on 23 September, Judge Ikuta of the 9th Circuit held the reproduction and sale of the Batman’s car, the Batmobile, constituted a breach of US copyright law. Responding to the opinion of the court that the Batmobile is a copyrightable “character”,  some IP lawyers suggest the judgment raises more questions than it answers. Continue reading

Gagosian sued for copyright infringement

A show featuring furniture designed by the late Austrian artist Franz West at the Gagosian Gallery in New York has gone ahead, despite a lawsuit bought against the gallery.

The Vienna-based Franz West archive filed a copyright lawsuit against Gagosian Gallery on September 4th. The complaint says that the archive has the “exclusive license to produce and sell certain furniture works” designed by Franz West, as well as “a separate exclusive license to make, use, and exploit any and all photographs of all works of art created by West during his lifetime.” It accuses Gagosian of violating its “exclusive licences” and the “foreign copyrights to which they relate” by conducting an exhibition and sale of West’s work, and seeks to stall it, and recover damages. They accuse the gallery of planning to sell an “unauthorized” version of West’s work. Continue reading