You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘plagiarism’ tag.

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Normally I would save links like this for my weekly Link-O-Rama page but I’m writing a separate rant just this once because I feel this asshole deserves special attention. Here are the details, as taken from the DIY Photography site.

If you were to take a screen shot of someone’s Instagram account and try selling it, two things would happen. The first is that you’d be told you’re violating the copyright of the photographer whose photo you’re selling, and secondly you’d be laughed at. Extensively.

It turns out, though, that if you’re famous enough you can take such a screen shot and not only bypass copyright but also make a fortune doing so.

The secret: slap some text on it.

Richard Prince has been using this method and some of his “artwork” is said to have been sold for $100,000.

This form of lazy “art” becomes even more infuriating when you realize that in addition to selling (if you’d say stealing, I’m not sure I’d disagree) photos that do not belong to him and without the knowledge or consent of the owners, Prince also removed the accompanying captions.

You can find the rest of the story here, along with one of the victims of this guy’s antics. Of course she’s not seeing a single dime in profit from her Instagram post being used like this without her prior knowledge or consent, even though that canvas based on her Instagram post has already been sold to an art collector for thousands of dollars.

I also found Richard Prince’s official website, which has no contact information posted anywhere on it. (He probably doesn’t want to get any hostile e-mails from the people whose Instagram photos he ripped off.) According to articles like the one in the Gothamist, this exhibition of so-called “original art” is currently on display at the Frieze Art Fair in New York City. And here is the Frieze Art Fair’s Contact page in case you want to let them know how you feel about them exhibiting Richard Prince’s work.

UPDATE (May 23, 2015): Richard Prince is trending on Facebook as of this writing. One artist named Lynn Cartia has announced that she has appropriated one of Prince’s own paintings, did some digital alterations of it, and she plans to put it on sale both online and in her gallery as well. There has been no response from Richard Prince yet on the appropriation of his art for someone else’s financial gain (which is what he’s doing to a few Instagram users).

UPDATE (May 30, 2015): Among Richard Prince’s victims is Missy Suicide, whose Instagram photo was appropriated with new captions added then printed out and put on sale for $90,000. Missy Suicide has announced that she’s selling the same print as Prince (which was based on her photo), in the same size (67 x 55 inches), with the same materials (inkjet on canvas). The difference is that she’s charging only $90 instead of Prince’s $90,000 asking price. She is also donating the proceeds to the Electronic Freedom Foundation. You can purchase the $90 print right here.

I was pretty happy when I came across this article with this headline: Urban Outfitters Shares Are Crashing—Here Are The Biggest Problems With The Brand.

It couldn’t have happened to a nicer chain store. </sarcasm> I’ll admit that I don’t shop at Urban Outfitters because that chain is on my personal list of stores I’d love to see go out of business. Why all the hate? Here are my reasons:

1. They have a history of ripping off the designs of independent artists without credit or compensation. Here’s are a few examples:

http://cutpasterepeat.blogspot.com/2014/09/urban-outfitters-steals-again.html

http://glam-trash.tumblr.com/post/65124842231/by-popular-request-i-removed-this-first-line-but

http://www.dailydot.com/business/urban-outfitters-steal-artists-work/

2. They have a history of selling outrageous and controversial items not because they want to promote a message or take a courageous stand on a controversial issue but because they are simply a bunch of attention whores that have no compunction with selling crap like a t-shirt that has a star placed over the shirt’s left breast that looks similar to the Star of David patches that Jews throughout the Nazi-occupied areas of Europe had to wear during World War II.

3. But their douche behavior doesn’t end there. This next link has a laundry list of the crap that Urban Outfitters have pulled in an effort to get free publicity and encourage people to buy their overpriced crap (the majority of which are made in Third World countries for very cheap prices).

http://theweek.com/article/index/220370/racist-navajo-attire-and-7-other-urban-outfitters-controversies

As for Urban Outfitters, I’ll buy something from them only if and when they have a “Going Out of Business” sale.

UPDATE (November 12, 2014): Just a few weeks after I wrote this post, I found out that Urban Outfitters had attention whored itself into yet another controversy. Those Hillary Clinton nutcrackers weren’t funny when Urban Outfitters originally sold them in 2008 and they still aren’t funny now. Talk about running an unfunny joke into the ground!

During the 2008 presidential campaign an artist named Shepherd Fairey created a poster that showed a digitized red, white, and blue image of then-Senator Barack Obama (who was running for president as a Democrat) with the word “HOPE” underneath. That poster immediately became iconic and some people even credit that poster for inspiring people the to vote for the first African-American ever elected as President of the United States. It was such a simple yet inspiring image that could’ve elevated Shepherd Fairey to the rank of that rare artist who achieved a level of fame and success for creating such a memorable image.

But there was one problem. It later came out that Shepherd Fairey used a photo that was taken by a freelance Associated Press photographer named Mannie Garcia when he created his Hope poster and he did it without getting permission from either Garcia or the AP. That revelation led AP to sue Fairey for copyright infringement, which cast a pall over Fairey’s artistic reputation.

I’ve had art teachers and professional artists advise me that if I am going to use a photo to create my own drawing, painting, digital art, etc., I should base it on my own photograph that I shoot myself with my own camera. That AP-Fairey lawsuit over the Hope poster was definitely a real-life version of that lesson.

Despite that incident, there are still would-be artists who try to cut corners by creating works of art based on other people’s photos without permission of the original copyright holder.

Before I started this blog I spent the bulk of 2009 recuperating from two surgeries in late 2008 (one was a hip replacement and the other happened six weeks later when the same surgeon had to remove a blood blister that developed when my body had a reaction to a blood thinner called Arixstra that my surgeon prescribed to me after the hip replacement). During my long recuperation I learned about a scandal that erupted in both the art world and among the Asian ball-jointed doll fandom about an artist named Mijn Schatje.

Mijn Schatje was a French-Dutch artist living in Paris whose digital art received massive acclaim in the art world. Her work was sold in art galleries throughout Europe for thousands of dollars. She was interviewed in major art magazines like Juxtapoz. She did the art for an ad campaign by Sony’s European subsidiary. Basically things were riding high for her. She was getting more and more noticed by the art world for her work. She was making a living with her art. She had gained admiring fans for her work. It was no surprise that her art had gained her public attention because if you saw her art, you’d notice that there was a doll-like quality among the females depicted in her work.

There’s a reason for the doll-like art. Some people in the Asian ball-jointed doll fandom recognized some of Mijn Schatje’s art from somewhere else and began their own investigation. It turned out that there was a very close match between much of Schatje’s vector digital art and photographs of dolls that were taken by either individual doll owners or doll companies. The doll fandom accused Mijn Schatje of downloading those photos off the Internet, importing them into Adobe Illustrator, tracing over the photographs, then passing them off to art galleries as her own original art. A website was erected that documented the similarities and many doll fans began to contact galleries, websites, art publications, doll companies, and the original photographers about that discovery.

The main website that originally documented the plagiarism of Mijn Schatje isn’t online anymore but there are other sites that still have the evidence posted at the following links:

Mijn Schatje – Art Thief

Bootleg Hell: The curious case of Mijn Schatje

mijn schatje & blastmilk comparisons

Mijn Schatje’s Plagiarized Works (Part 1)

Since that scandal broke not much has been publicly mentioned about Mijn Schatje or her art. Her official site hasn’t been updated since 2009 or 2010. Her Facebook page is more up-to-date even though it looks like she only posts there once every several weeks or so. One of her Facebook posts had this message that was dated April 26, 2013.

I’m moving out to Bali, indonesia, in less than two weeks, I’ll be working in a different field for some time (french pastry/bakery!), but stay here if you dare.

It looks like her art career hasn’t quite recovered from the plagiarism accusations. Maybe she’ll have better luck in her new career working in a French pastry/bakery in Bali. At least she won’t have to worry about people hurling plagiarism charges at her for baking croissants or eclairs.

Despite the bad outcome of Mijn Schatje’s art career, there are still people who can’t resist using someone else’s photographs without permission to create their own work of art to sell to the general public. Yesterday I accidentally found a more recent example when I decided to post my same photos that I used in yesterday’s Irish Lass in the Snow entry on the Den of Angels forum (which is one of the biggest Asian ball-jointed doll fan forums on the Internet). I hadn’t been on that forum in at least two years mainly because I was dealing with both recovering from my hip revision surgery in late 2011 and my husband’s sudden walkout on me just three months later without ever telling me that he was unhappy in our marriage. (In other words, I had more important things to worry about than dolls.)

I decided to peruse the other sections of the forum until I found a thread on yet another artist who decided to plagiarized someone else’s doll photos in an attempt to make a profit. The thread started on March 5 and, as of this writing, it has gone up to 37 pages.

Apparently an artist named Matthew Christopher Nelson had started a funding campaign on Kickstarter.com in an attempt to finance the publishing of an art book full of his work. Like Mijn Schatje, someone in the Asian ball-jointed doll fandom stumbled across Nelson’s Kickstarter page and recognized some of the art from photos that other doll fans had been posting on the Den of Angels. Like Mijn Schatje, other doll fans began their own investigation and found too many of Nelson’s pictures that bear a close resemblance to those doll fan photos. The doll fans began to organize online and, as of this writing, they have been instrumental in shutting down the Kickstarter campaign, Nolan’s deviantART account (which had featured the controversial art), and Nolan’s public Facebook page (which also featured the disputed art).

And there’s one more reason why Matthew Christopher Nelson is in the same boat that Mijn Schatje was back in 2009. Some doll fans have been posting online evidence that Nelson essentially took other people’s photos without permission from the original photographers, imported them into Adobe Photoshop, put them through a few Photoshop filters, then passed off the altered images as his own original art. Here are some links about the comparisons that feature lots of damning evidence.

Art Thief EXPOSED

Art Theft

“Artist” & “Fantasy Author” Matthew Christopher Nelson

It’s too early to see whether Nelson’s art career will tank just as badly as Mijn Schatje’s did. But this latest incident only drives home this lesson: If you are going to use photographs as a source material for your art, use only the photos that you took yourself from your camera. That way if someone accuses you of plagiarism or art theft, you’ll at least own the evidence that refutes that accusation.

In other words, don’t even THINK about using someone else’s photo for your art. It only takes one discovery to ruin your reputation. Of course some people will ignore the previous sentence and plagiarize anyway. That’s why sites like You Thought We Wouldn’t Notice exist and are constantly updated with new content. 😦

The next time you shop at Fab, Anthropologie, or Nordstroms and see some really cool stuff being sold at cheap prices by Cody Foster & Co., avoid buying it. That company has long ripped off indie designers by copying their designs and manufacturing them in Third World sweatshops while the original designers receive nothing in compensation. Many indie designers are self-employed who live and work on shoestring budgets and many of them can’t afford to sue because many lawyers ask for fees in six-digit figures.

You can learn more about Cody Foster & Co.’s despicable behavior at the following links:

http://shine.yahoo.com/work-money/were-ripping-off-indie-artists-cheap-tchotchke-habit-202500409.html

http://boingboing.net/2013/10/18/meet-cody-foster-co-the-de.html

http://www.flickr.com/photos/105498342%40N02/

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