Bob Dylan, Defender Of Strong Copyrights, Once Again Caught Copying Others

from the sing-a-song-of-hypocrisy dept

Bob Dylan has a pretty long history of appropriating works from others, but then going after anyone who has built on his works. He’s also been held up by copyright maximalists as someone whose career just wouldn’t be the same without strong copyright. So it’s somewhat amusing to discover, once again, that he’s been caught outright copying others. Emily Goodhand points us to the news that Dylan has a new painting exhibit, and people have started noticing that some of the paintings appear to be clearly copied from old photographs. Take these two comparisons from the NY Times:

The images on the left are from Dylan’s exhibit (photographs taken by the NY Times’ Marcus Yam). The top photo on the right is by Henri Cartier-Bresson, and the lower photo is by Leon Busy. It would be difficult for anyone to argue that the paintings were not based on these photos. Dylan had claimed that the paintings were all based on scenes he had seen in his travels. I guess he may have seen those photographs during his travels, but that’s certainly not the implied origin of the paintings.

Now, to be clear, I actually don’t see anything wrong with Dylan making such paintings. Painting from a source photograph is a good way for many to learn how to paint. On top of that, the paintings don’t take away anything from the photos, and may actually create more attention for the photos. It does feel sleazy, though, to not credit the source. But the bigger issue is the hypocrisy of it all — of arguing that others can’t appropriate his works, while regularly and directly appropriating the works of others… and then refusing to admit to it.

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Comments on “Bob Dylan, Defender Of Strong Copyrights, Once Again Caught Copying Others”

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Anonymous Coward says:

I gave up on him years ago.His original protesting spirit was cool in the 60’s but he became a big Corporate piece of Krap Musician who sold his soul to big money.
I am still a poor punk rocker but would rather be me than any of these RIAA Signing Traitors !!!

Original 1976 punker still playing punk in two bands.
The Lynn Rebels
Big Meat Hammer
I refuse to ever sell out !!!!

Ninja (profile) says:

Re: Re:

That’s not what Mike is criticizing. He’s criticizing how he blatantly copies (copyrighted works or public domains) and then goes aggressive when some1 does a work derived from his stuff.

It takes a politician to believe the copyright morons when you see so many contradictions and proofs that copyright is broken nowadays.

C:TMP says:

I understand maybe Dylan should’ve mentioned the sources. In a world where artists don’t need to worry about the idiotic concept of copyright this should’ve been just another attempt at art. Van Gogh copied Millet, Picasso copied Braque. You know how it goes – all art is derivative.

Btw, I found this little gem by Jim Jarmusch –

“Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. If you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic. Authenticity is invaluable; originality is nonexistent. And don’t bother concealing your thievery–celebrate it if you feel like it. In any case, always remember what Jean-Luc Godard said: “It’s not where you take things from–it’s where you take them to.”


Tom The Toe says:

Bob Uses Public Domain and puts his name on it.

For his 2006 album Modern Times he has a song called The Levee’s Gonna Break. “When the Levee Breaks” is a blues song written and first recorded by husband and wife Kansas Joe McCoy and Memphis Minnie in 1929. The song is in reaction to the upheaval caused by the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927. Led Zeppelin recorded it but were nice enough to attribute the song to Memphis Minnie. Bob took it and put his name on it as writer. D-BAG.

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