Is Change of Medium Still Copyright Infringement?

It was in Rogers v. Koons.

Professional photographer Alex Brown believes a couple of sculptors, who go by the name of littlewhitehead, have copied one of his photographs. Apparently, Brown never gave consent for littlewhitehead to use his 2007 photo, Sad Vader, to create their own sculpture piece, Spam. The Blog of The British Journal of Photography has been covering this story, and even got a response from littlewhitehead regarding this conflict.

We didn’t know the photograph had been taken by a professional. But for us the photograph was only the starting point for our work. We were never interested in finding out who had taken the original, that was irrelevant to the working process. The fact the image already had such a large web presence is what made the image important to us. …We contacted Alex immediately after hearing of his concerns and asked if there was anyway we could deal with the situation amicably.

What do you think? Compare the two. Brown’s photo is the top image; littlewhitehead’s is the bottom image.


(Alex Brown photograph. Click to enlarge)


(LittleWhitehead sculpture. Click to enlarge)

2 comments on this post.
  1. Ulf:

    How is the professionalism or lack thereof of the photographer relevant?

  2. Sergio Muñoz Sarmiento:

    It may be relevant to the damages issue, especially if the photographs were not registered with the US Copyright Office. It doesn’t go to validity (or invalidity) of the photographer’s claim, and much less to the aesthetic quality or relevance. In fact, I have argued before that the distinction between fine art and craft is moot when it comes to copyright (and art for that matter). Hope that helps! – sms

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