Old Lady Ruins Fresco, Claims Copyright, Demands Money

from the turn-jesus-into-a-hairy-monkey...-turn-a-profit? dept

Remember that sweet octogenarian lady in Spain who tried to restore a 19th-century fresco "Ecce Homo" and ended up producing something that the BBC's Europe correspondent described as "a crayon sketch of a very hairy monkey in an ill-fitting tunic"? Remember how the poor woman had an anxiety attack as a result of the criticism she received, but that everything worked out fine when her work became an Internet meme, and sightseers started flocking to see it?

According to a story pointed out to us by @sinkdeep, that sweet octogenarian lady is back, accompanied now by her lawyers, claiming copyright on her work and demanding a cut of the takings from the collection box that the church authorities have placed near the fresco (original in Spanish.)

It would be fascinating to know where the idea came from: whether somebody suggested to her that she had a "right" to some of the church's money, or whether the sense of entitlement -- in this case for more or less ruining an admittedly minor work of art -- is now so widespread that everyone, everywhere, naturally assumes they ought to get their cut as soon as money is involved. Either way, it's a sad commentary on our times -- and on what a belief in copyright can do to otherwise generous people.

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  1.  
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    weneedhelp (profile), Sep 19th, 2012 @ 12:41pm

    I.... It.... Just... [facepalm]

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 19th, 2012 @ 12:46pm

    Well of course!

    She did some work, she's entitled to be paid for it!

    Say you're going to build a house - you have all the materials delivered on Friday, but when you show up on Monday to begin work, you discover that I've already used the materials to build the house.

    Since I did so much work, obviously the house is mine, and you should have to pay me to live there! It doesn't matter that it's a bungalow when you wanted a two-storey, or that the square footage is wrong - I did the work, I should be compensated!

    GIVE ME MONEY!

    /sarcasm

     

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    The eejit (profile), Sep 19th, 2012 @ 12:46pm

    Re:

    Well, just think of the lives she saved using that money!

    ...oh, wait...

     

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    Mr. LemurBoy (profile), Sep 19th, 2012 @ 12:53pm

    Re:

    There is no facepalm big enough for this.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 19th, 2012 @ 12:53pm

    She should sign prints instead. CwF + RtB

     

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    Rikuo (profile), Sep 19th, 2012 @ 12:58pm

    So what happens if I break into the Louvre, avoid security and draw a goatee and twirly moustache on the Mona Lisa, and since the Mona Lisa is priceless...does that mean I get all the money in the world?

     

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    MrWilson, Sep 19th, 2012 @ 1:05pm

    I think it's fine that she gets a cut of the donations. And like a musician's cut of the proceeds of album sales, it'll be a piddly percent and she won't see a cent until the church recoups the amount of money it will take to restore the painting to a decent level of quality by a real restoration artist. So she'll see a cut of the donations around her 160th birthday!

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 19th, 2012 @ 1:10pm

    So is the painting still like that in the church?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 19th, 2012 @ 1:16pm

    Re:

    no by this ladies logic you get half.

     

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    Pixelation, Sep 19th, 2012 @ 1:26pm

    Jesus is NOT going to be happy about this.

     

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    Tunnen (profile), Sep 19th, 2012 @ 1:30pm

    Doubling down on the fail....

    But ignoring the fact that she ruined the original painting, which I think she should be charged with vandalism, and also that she's trying to claim partial ownership of the item she defaced. Trying to dip your hand into the church's coin purse is one of the craziest things I think you could do.

    1) If she's religious, I hope she enjoys a very warm afterlife. I doubt He would be too happy about defacing a portrait of His son. I'm also sure He wouldn't approve of her taking money for her personal use that could be used to help those who need the help the most.
    2) I have a feeling that the Church has a whole arsenal of lawyers that will crush this lawsuit faster then a blackhole could.
    3) If she thought the anxiety she suffered from the original criticism was bad, I hope she has a group of health care professionals on 24 hour standby, this next anxiety attack will be going nuclear.

     

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    weneedhelp (profile), Sep 19th, 2012 @ 1:37pm

    Re: Re:

     

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    shakir, Sep 19th, 2012 @ 1:37pm

    Re: Re:

     

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    steev0, Sep 19th, 2012 @ 1:40pm

    Response to: Anonymous Coward on Sep 19th, 2012 @ 1:10pm

    You obviously have no idea what a fresco is...

     

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    Travis, Sep 19th, 2012 @ 2:03pm

    Re:

    I don't normally care for the church. But such vampirism from little old lady... I like the picture you paint with the black hole thing. May that happen to every single copyright parasite out there.

     

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    Scott Schultz, Sep 19th, 2012 @ 2:04pm

    A weird twist to this

    Ordinarily I would probably rush to judgement about this woman trying to profit from her defacement of an historical painting. After all, if the church is actually collecting funds, those are almost certainly intended to be spent on a real restoration of the original, not as an endorsement of the "update".

    However, a funny thing happened just a couple of days ago.

    I received notification from Facebook that The Sims Social had a "free item" for me. (Sims Social is a facebook-based version of The Sims, the popular game from Maxis/EA.)

    The in-game item in question was, you guessed it, a rendition of this woman's painting to hang on the wall of your Sim's house. Why? Who knows? Did they license it from her or from the church? Unlikely. Should they have? If her lawyers find out about it, maybe it will be tested in court.

    Maxis is making money off of her work, in a roundabout way. They aren't selling it directly but they are using it as an enticement to get people to play their game or at least login long enough to claim the item and hang it up in their virtual domicile.

    The thing is, copyright doesn't depend upon commercialization. Technically speaking, this woman's painting was copyrighted (I think, I'm not an arts lawyer) as soon as she touched brush to plaster.

    If Maxis is profiting (or attempting to profit) from her work, then how many other business are there out there making tee-shirts or novelty/parody items that are also attempting to commercialize her painting?

    As stupid as it sounds, this woman may be just the exact sort of person that copyright law is designed to protect. It may be seem ludicrous given the circumstances of the painting's creation, but it's other people who are turning this painting from a personal embarrassment into a commercial enterprise. If that happens, then who's to say that she shouldn't control what happens to it and how profits from it?

     

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    Josef Anvil (profile), Sep 19th, 2012 @ 2:08pm

    Fitting punishment

    Hopefully the old lady will expend resources on lawyers and have a lengthy court battle, maybe 10+ years including appeals. The church should let her win when she's in her mid 90s (if she lasts that long).

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 19th, 2012 @ 2:10pm

    Re: A weird twist to this

    I would argue this is the very definition of work for hire. Wouldn't that give the copyright on it to the Church anyway?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 19th, 2012 @ 2:10pm

    Re:

    And so the Monkey Jesus descended from the heavens in an ill fitting tunic. He decided to punish the women for her greed by draining the potassium from the woman's body, stealing her supply of bananas, and throwing feces in her face. If she displeases the Monkey Jesus once more, she shall be turned to stone, but not without devolving, growing an absurd amount of body hair, and her clothes transforming into an ill-fitting tunic.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 19th, 2012 @ 2:19pm

    The church should make a deal with her, 50% of the take and the church gets to excommunicate her, or none of the take and she gets to stay with the church. Old lady, obviously religious background, kicked out of church is gonna reduce her chances of a nice afterlife ;)

     

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    Tunnen (profile), Sep 19th, 2012 @ 2:30pm

    Re: Re:

    I'm not overly fond of the Church myself. I tend to identify myself as agnostic, though I'm think I'm technically Christian (Baptized, attended church at a young age, etc).

    But looking at the bigger picture, the Church is a large entity. From my understanding, they are also very protective of their donations/collections. Trying to sue the Church, in my mind, would be like trying to sue a large corporation like Apple. Both will have a large army of lawyers that will crush you. They both also have fanatic fanbases that will torment you.

    I personally would not try my luck at attacking a bees nest only to get a small lick of honey. But then again, I would never have attempted to restore something beyond my skill level and without permission. Though, I think both of these thoughts fall into that "common sense" category that seems to be on the endangered list. =P

     

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  22.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 19th, 2012 @ 2:42pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    love that movie!

     

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  23.  
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    Rich Fiscus (profile), Sep 19th, 2012 @ 2:45pm

    This is the most awesome idea ever! It will both revolutionize and save the entertainment industry.

    Just think of it. Give musicians and their record labels a cut of all proceeds from the restaurants and bars around concert venues. Movie producers can take the theaters and TV stations can stick their hands in the pockets of all those places, assuming they have TVs, and all kinds of other businesses who put in a TV "for their customers' convenience." Convenience my ass! You're all just a bunch of thieves.

    Heck, why bother with all the geographic details. Let's just assume anyone who gets money from the public is freeloading off some copyright holder, impose a fair tax (25% of revenue sounds reasonable) and let them fight among themselves to divide it up.

     

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    Tunnen (profile), Sep 19th, 2012 @ 2:46pm

    Re: Re: A weird twist to this

    Wouldn't this be more like vandalism? I don't think the Church ever gave her permission to attempt the restoration. She took it upon herself. I may be wrong though, I only saw a news summary when it happened and what people said about it.

    The summary I read said that an appraiser went to the church to take a look at the painting to determine the cost to restore the original damage. When the appraiser was shown to the painting by church staff, they were stunned. They originally thought someone intentionally vandalized it, until the women eventually came forth and admitted what she had done.

     

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    Tunnen (profile), Sep 19th, 2012 @ 2:52pm

    Re:

    I think defacing a portrait of His son then also even thinking about trying to dip her hand into the donation box has already got herself a nice warm seat reserved in the afterlife...

    Assuming that she can't repent or otherwise clear herself of sin before then. (I'm not very good with religious doctrine. I don't know the in and outs about what can and can not be forgiven)

     

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  26.  
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    RD, Sep 19th, 2012 @ 3:03pm

    Dear Big Media

    Dear Big Media,

    I just have one thing to say to you, which will sum up everything you have done wrong to push stronger copyright laws on the world:

    YOU REAP WHAT YOU SOW.

    You have done so well in criminalizing copyright violations, while at the same time vastly expanding not only the types of things that copyright covers, but the extent to which those things are covered, all wrapped up in that wonderful 1976 "automatic copyright" clause, that you have created a gigantic and endemic Copyright Entitlement Mentality in every single person on the planet. This will now come back to bite you in the ass, as everyone (and I mean, the little people, not Big Media) will now feel compelled to "get theirs" at any cost, and over even the slightest whiff of anything remotely resembling a copyright violation. For now, its the little people eating each others lunch, but soon this will grow and they will be coming after you. At whatever point Google takes a hand, and turns its (thanks to you) now-near-infinite copyright hammer to your violating nail, you will know the pain everyone else has had to suffer under for the last 40-odd years or so.

    Sincerely,

    Everyone You Have Screwed

     

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  27.  
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    FuzzyDuck, Sep 19th, 2012 @ 3:07pm

    Re: A weird twist to this

    Now if I photograph a building, even if I didn't build the building, I own the copyrights on the photograph. So if I photograph a painting I should also own the copyrights on the photograph... or not?

    Also the physical painting belongs to the church, it's the only copy around, the original. Doesn't the church then also own the copyrights?

    Copyright gets complicated quickly.

     

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    RD, Sep 19th, 2012 @ 3:16pm

    Re: Re: A weird twist to this

    "Now if I photograph a building, even if I didn't build the building, I own the copyrights on the photograph. So if I photograph a painting I should also own the copyrights on the photograph... or not?"

    The answer to this is, YES! After all, if a gallery can claim copyright on pictures YOU take of paintings in their gallery, you can likewise (good for the gander after all! the law applies to everyone!) claim copyright on things you have no claim over!

     

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  29.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 19th, 2012 @ 3:18pm

    Liberal democrat

    she must be........

     

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    Tunnen (profile), Sep 19th, 2012 @ 3:21pm

    Re:

    Half of zero, is still zero... =P

    I also have a ton of priceless items at home, but nobody seems to want to pay me to come take a look at them... =P

     

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  31.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 19th, 2012 @ 3:27pm

    Re: A weird twist to this

    Soooooo.....
    by that reasoning I am entitled to a cut of everything.
    I touched or done many things which have in turn touched other thing which in turn...etc.
    So pony up...

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 19th, 2012 @ 4:27pm

    Well, no good deed goes unpunished. They were nice about accepting her apology and *not* having her arrested for vandalism, and she pays them back in this way.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 19th, 2012 @ 4:27pm

    Think of the Taggers

    I think the really sad part of all this is that people are actually willing to pay money to look at this thing!

    PT Barnum already said it, so I won't.

    But then this also begs the questions:

    Do Taggers get to copyright their work even tho they're charged with vandalism?

    Can the property owner remove graffiti if it's copyrighted?

    Now my head hurts.

     

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  34.  
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    Nick (profile), Sep 19th, 2012 @ 4:39pm

    Minor observation

    Seeing as how her "restoration" looks nothing like the older work, she could claim it's an original work that it literally based on the older piece.

     

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    Marie, Sep 19th, 2012 @ 4:51pm

    I didn't think it was possible to loathe that women more than I already did...
    SURPRISE!!!

     

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    Mr. LemurBoy (profile), Sep 19th, 2012 @ 4:52pm

    I can't help but think that this is a perfect example of why copyright should require registration, instead of being automagically granted.

     

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  37.  
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    Mr. LemurBoy (profile), Sep 19th, 2012 @ 4:57pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    That's a pretty hefty facepalm. It might do.

     

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    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Sep 19th, 2012 @ 5:14pm

    You made Beast Jesus cry, I hope your happy!

    Beast Jesus, the new icon for the copyright culture.

     

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    Techraan, Sep 19th, 2012 @ 5:26pm

    Re: Well of course!

    Ok, but what if instead of a house, it's a hollowed out elephant's pancreas?

     

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    Ninja (profile), Sep 19th, 2012 @ 6:16pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Buddha proportions facepalm. Yes, that probably describes how big.

    I wouldn't blame the granny though, I'm more inclined to believe she's acting based on ill-advisory from lawyers. What could go wrong?

     

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    JoeCool (profile), Sep 19th, 2012 @ 8:05pm

    Re: Response to: Anonymous Coward on Sep 19th, 2012 @ 1:10pm

    Remember when your kids drew on the walls in the living room and you whipped the piss out of them? It's like that, but instead of whipping the piss out of them, you sell tickets. :)

     

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    Pixelation, Sep 19th, 2012 @ 9:14pm

    Re: Re:

    Poo flinging monkey Jesus is going to hell.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 20th, 2012 @ 1:48am

    There is no way in hell she thought this up herself. Lawyers smelled money and went and talked to her. F-everything about this.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 20th, 2012 @ 3:45am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    negative, you don't get that kind of lawyer advice unless you go seeking for it (and pay for it), it implies she thought of it to begin with.

     

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    Ninja (profile), Sep 20th, 2012 @ 5:06am

    Re: Re:

    By all means she's just trying to get money to buy a place in heavens, you know a nice little piece of land (or cloud?) with a pond near it. Is it a sin to want a comfy afterlife? The priest is accepting payments using credit cards!

     

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    Some Other AC (profile), Sep 20th, 2012 @ 6:31am

    Re: Re: Re:

    " I think both of these thoughts fall into that "common sense" category that seems to be on the endangered list."

    Common sense is now a super power. Few people have it and those that do and use it consistently tend to have less trouble in this world.

     

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    Sergej, Sep 20th, 2012 @ 6:40am

    You don't read the spanish article. She only wants to participate in the money that the CHURCH MADE from this (2000 Euros in 4 days). So, why not?

     

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    Draph91 (profile), Sep 20th, 2012 @ 7:58am

    Wow I'm speechless

     

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    Jeff Patarken, Sep 20th, 2012 @ 1:00pm

    Wasn't it for charity?

    I read somewhere else that she wanted the money to go to a charity that's looking for a treatment to a disease that her son has. If true, that's a pretty important omission for the sake of a snarky story

     

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    Brewster Jennings, Sep 20th, 2012 @ 1:03pm

    Re: A weird twist to this

    Well, I don't know about the EC, but in the U.S., she has no case. From U.S. Copyright law:


    103 . Subject matter of copyright: Compilations and derivative works
    (a) The subject matter of copyright as specified by section 102 includes compilations and derivative works, but protection for a work employing preexisting material in which copyright subsists does not extend to any part of the work in which such material has been used unlawfully.

    (b) The copyright in a compilation or derivative work extends only to the material contributed by the author of such work, as distinguished from the preexisting material employed in the work, and does not imply any exclusive right in the preexisting material. The copyright in such work is independent of, and does not affect or enlarge the scope, duration, ownership, or subsistence of, any copyright protection in the preexisting material.

    ---

    Material "Used Unlawfully" doesn't just refer to the unlawful use of Intellectual Property in a derivative work. When the woman committed an act of vandalism to create her "art", I believe she either automatically forfeited her Intellectual Property rights to the Church, the owner of the original work, or automatically created a Creative Commons work, since the original was already out of copyright.

     

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    toadboy65 (profile), Sep 20th, 2012 @ 3:58pm

    vandalism

    She is a terrible, awful person.

     

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    Howard Crane, Sep 20th, 2012 @ 6:32pm

    Give her the copyright!!!

    She earned it! In fairness she did entertain MILLIONS.

    My question is though: who does she want money from?! THE INTERNET!? lol

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 20th, 2012 @ 10:28pm

    Re: Response to: Anonymous Coward on Sep 19th, 2012 @ 1:10pm

    The question wasn't whether the painting was still in the church, it was whether or not they changed the painting.

     

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    Mork, Sep 21st, 2012 @ 12:04am

    Re: A weird twist to this

    Its not her painting! She defaced someone else's property she hasn't created an original work of art based on someone else's copyright like say Banksy or someone who reapprropriates other peoples images. Plus Maxis can make money out of it because the original painting is no longer in copyright.

     

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    Lucy Peel, Sep 21st, 2012 @ 5:38am

    Clarity

    She's actually raising funds for a muscular atrophy charity. Her son suffers from the condition. Here's a link to a report with a little bit more in depth research http://m.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/sep/20/ecce-homo-cecilia-gimenez-royalties?cat=world&type=art icle

     

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    Koa, Sep 21st, 2012 @ 5:42am

    Jesus /"restoration"

    She should get paid for her work? She now has copyright on it? Really!? That's like a photographer setting up a shoot. Pays for the props, pays rent on the studio, pays for the models, makeup artists and hair stylist. The photographer then sends the completed images to a retoucher. Once completed, the retoucher claims copyright on the image. Get real!

     

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    Dana, Sep 21st, 2012 @ 6:04am

    This isn't about a belief in copyright. This is about a misunderstanding of what copyright is *for*. Of course, Spain probably enforces copyright differently (in some ways) than we do here in the U.S., but still.

    Although, hilariously enough, if she'd done her little painting here and the church had commissioned it, the copyright would have belonged to *them.*

    But yeah. You better bet actual artists believe in copyright. And it gives me no end of conniption fits that the same folks who tell artists they can't make a living from their work, then turn around and merrily *steal* said work so that the artists really won't make a living after all.

     

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    Mr. Kaly, Sep 21st, 2012 @ 7:31am

    Re: Re:yes yes there is

     

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    Kyle, Sep 22nd, 2012 @ 9:17pm

    The truth

    She did in fact do work. But if anyone should be getting sued for copyright infringement it's her for copyright infringing Mr Bean.

     

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    marisol marquez, Sep 23rd, 2012 @ 8:36pm

    re: what?

    she "restored" the painting without authorization...she should be in jail for destroying a historical piece...not be compensated!!!!!!!!!

     

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    theforestman, Sep 24th, 2012 @ 8:20pm

    Whatever

    the saying "adding insult to injury" is just not enough in this case. I wonder on what ground lawyers would claim this?
    It's like if someone breaks into your house, destroy everything, you put pictures of in on the web, it becomes viral and donation comes in to help you rebuild, and then, out of the blue, the guy who destroyed everything claims part of the money donated for his contribution to your newly gained wealth... I am not particularly in favor of the church (for unrelated reasons) but this is some really screwed up logic here.

     

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  62.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 24th, 2012 @ 10:56pm

    Re: A weird twist to this

    Guys... As someone who works in the art restoration industry (actually restoring frames, but working closing with art conservators), the vandalism issue doesn't even need to be brought up to answer this: If someone restores a painting, they have no copyright on it. I'm a contractor, essentially; I've restored frames for a private collection including Manets and Van Goghs, and all I got paid for was restoring the ornamentation and re-gilding them. If I got a piece every time they were shown in a museum, I'd be a much richer man.

     

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  63.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 24th, 2012 @ 11:02pm

    Re: Re: A weird twist to this

    Oh, also, if she should be suing anyone, it shouldn't be for copyright. She'd get a whole lot farther on the basis of "personal distress and public humiliation" caused by the church for letting reporters in without consulting her, then settling by asking the church for a contribution to her charity. Boom. Monies.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  64.  
    identicon
    Chase, Oct 10th, 2012 @ 10:42am

    Re:

    Nah, it means you get a cut of the money they will charge others to come see your... `enhancements`.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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