Congrats to my man Glen E. Friedman.
California federal judge Dean Pregerson has ruled in Glen’s favor in a copyright infringement lawsuit against Thierry Guetta, AKA Mr. Brainwash. Featured in the Oscar-nominated documentary Exit Through The Giftshop, Guetta’s use and “appropriation” of Glen’s iconic Run DMC image prompted the legal action.
In his ruling, Judge Pregerson stated the following:
“To permit one artist the right to use without consequence the original creative and copyrighted work of another artist simply because that artist wished to create an alternative work would eviscerate any protection by the Copyright Act,” concludes Judge Pregerson. “Without such protection, artists would lack the ability to control the reproduction and public display of their work and, by extension, to justly benefit from their original creative work.”
Unlike Shepard Fairey, who was also involved in a seemingly similar type of lawsuit involving an AP press photo of Obama that later became the 2008 campaign poster, Guetta simply leveraged the existing power and gravity of an already iconic image. The source photo involved in Fairey’s case was virtually indistinguishable from countless other generic snapshots of Obama. In Friedman v. Guetta however, Glen’s Run DMC photo was already one of the most recognizable images of the band and a classic hip-hop portrait. Guettas’s final product didn’t substantially rise to the creative burden of being “transformative” and therefore give him the right to call the work his own. Nor did his work involve any degree of recontextualisation. Fair use does not protect artists from being bereft of originality and simply biting other people’s creativity with no reverence, sense of humor or attribution.
The key differences between these two cases can be loosely compared to another set of cases from the world of music. It’s essentially the difference between De La Soul sampling a beat from a dusty and forgotten Turtles record from the 1960′s and then utilizing the sample to create an entirely new genre of hip hop, and to Vanilla Ice biting the classic and familiar Queen hit “Under Pressure” and trying to pull it off as his own creation.
Learn your history…
Respect your elders…
Find inspiration in art and make it your own.
Tags: ATL, Banksy, Buttons, Chippa Wilson, De La Soul, Glen E. Friedman, Jeff Divine, Malibu Police Dept., Mr.Brainwash, Mugshots, Nick Nolte, Outkast, Richard Avedon, Run DMC, Shepard Fairey, Simon and Garfunkel, The Turtles, Thierry Guetta, Vanilla Ice