A snapshot of the great British summer on my way to the studio this morning… Life goals! 

So I’ve started this week by listening to the podcast conversation on legal and IP Frameworks. Comparing Different Case Studies, Media Use and Equity Ownership. 

There were some interesting takeaways. and in relation to my own work as a graphic designer there have been quite a few situations especially when it comes to graphics used on clothing where I feel if I had drawn up a contract then I would have not completed the work feeling as though I have sold myself short. 

In short from this podcast one thing I’m always from now on going to remember to do is check the UK IPO. They have a free to access database of registered trademarks 

But don’t worry that wasn’t the only thing that caught my attention! I really enjoyed looking at the case studies. I think in all cases it the interesting takeaway from the speakers was that unless you have genuinely plagiarised someones work it is near impossible to be truly original. In the age of sharing work on social media to a potential global audience you not only put yourself at the risk of being called out for plagiarising someones work, or, have your work ripped off by someone else. This could be a corporate giant like Zara who were taken to court after a directly obvious copy of illustrator Tuesday Bassens’ work.

“I’ve been pretty quiet about this, until now,” Bassen wrote. “Over the past year, @zara has been copying my artwork (thanks to all that have tipped me off – it’s been a lot of you). I had my lawyer contact Zara and they literally said I have no base because I’m an indie artist and they’re a major corporation and that not enough people even know about me for it to matter. I plan to further press charges, but even to have a lawyer get this LETTER has cost me $2k so far. It sucks and it’s super disheartening to have to spend basically all of my money, just to defend what is legally mine.”

It’s hard to find out online how this was resolved which suggests that there may have been a pay off from Zara, however, for it to get to this point it took a coming together of a number of artists who had also had their artwork ripped off by the clothing brand. Tuesday has used social media to her advantage in this case. Firstly it was her following who notified her of the copies, secondly it was through social media that she was connected with other artists that this had happened too and finally the bad PR that zara received for doing this inevitably HAS to make them accountable no matter how big they are!

In contrast to this case I’ve been looking into another interesting case of compywright law. This case between Andy Warhol and Lynn Goldsmith.

“Appropriation art, the practice of using pre-existing elements or images in a new work while making few or sometimes even no alterations to the original work, has been a subject of legal controversy for many decades.”

The Art Newspaper

What I’ve found interesting about this case is that there isn’t one body or one uniform model when it comes to copyright protections. Artwork needs to be made, or appropriated with the country in mind. I also had no idea that at times exhibitors or owners of artwork can be liable if the work comes into a legal dispute. In my opinion every piece of art is a response to something whether that be a place a feeling or another piece of artwork. I can see how an Andy Warhol work could potentially cast a shadow on the origional artwork it was taken from, yet could it not also enhanse that work? If the timelines are shown properly and the work is given context I don’t know if there is too much of an issue. When you compare this to the Zara issue you can see that those are direct copies, yet perhaps there is a similarity. If Andy Warhol then goes onto sell thousands of pieces of prince merch should he legally be obliged to give Goldsmith a cut? I guess like in music when people sample someone and you get a small cut everytime it has been played?

Back to the lecture material…
Another takeaway was just the importance of contracts and documenting your process.
It seems that if designs are taken to court the courts look into a lot of the metadata of files to determine when things were made etc.
Keeping a paper trail of work is good for so many reasons not just this. It’s just a reminder you can keep throughout the project to keep holding eachother accountable for what both parties have said they will do. In terms of contracts this is not something I have done before but will do moving forwards as I can see the benefits. It seems to just cover you back.

Contract Examples:

Ocean plastic…
It’s a registered trademark.
How do we all feel about that?
I looked into it further and actually realised that the company I thought that owned the term ‘ocean plastic’ own the term ‘Parley Ocean Plastic’. I think I find it conflicting because by

owning the term does that mean that you own what that term means? There are actually 30 registered trademarks with the words ‘ocean plastic’ in them. It’s quite interesting because you can delve a little deeper and try to work out why they may have that term registered.
There is a law firm that owns the word ‘OCEAN PLASTIC’….
Strange, I need to get back to the task at hand but this is an interesting ethical point from my perspective in potentially skewing what the consumer thinks they are buying. Greenwashing.

“Copyright laws have not kept pace with the speed technology is moving when it comes to AI art”
Kim Leutwyler

AI is a really interesting topic when it comes to copyright and the fair use of artwork. I’ve pulled a quote from the artist Kim Leutwyler who states that copyright laws have not kept pace with AI. In Kim’s case they specifically were talking about the app Lensa which allows users to upload a number of selfies and they will then for a fee have a series of generated avatars in different artisticstyles, so for example in an oil painting style… fun!?

The problem lies with where AI is drawing reference from. Graphic Designer Lauryn Ipsum (great name)shone a light on this on Twitter claiming that in 100s of these AI generated avatars you could clearly see a skewed version of an artists signature.

The spokesperson denied the app was replicating artists’ creative signatures, saying the app has learned to “memorise the detail” to make it look more like a real painting.“The blurred silhouettes of visual elements [that one may perceive as signatures] you see in the outputs do not utilise any existing language; often, they don’t feature any letters,” they said. “They do not represent the remains of existing artists’ signatures either.”

Through looking at these articles I found that there has been a website set up which allows artists to see whether there artwork is being used on AI databases. https://haveibeentrained.com/
By using this website you can not only find out whether your artwork has been used but opt out and remove your artwork from databases used by AI.
It’s a really interesting thing to see unfold… I could compare it to vaping, surely in a few years there will be lots of legislation surrounding vapes and what it can do for your body / environment… but we aren’t there yet and in the meantime companies are making loads of money until that day comes.

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