Artist Claims Soul-Clearing, DNA-Repatterning Motivational Speaker Jacked His Depictions Of 'Sacred Geometries'

from the layers-of-loopiness dept

Here’s the sort of copyright infringement lawsuit you don’t see every day: a holistic motivational speaker purveying an off-brand Scientology designed to get true believers laid better sales commissions being sued by an artist whose portfolio contains over 400 representations of “sacred geometries.”

The following is stated under “FACTS COMMON TO ALL COUNTS” in the lawsuit. There are some alleged facts in here, but very few of those are included in the intellectual property being sued over.

PLAINTIFF is the copyright proprietor of a series of original artistic designs and characteristics collectively known and referred to herein as “SACRED GEOMETRY”.

PLAINTIFF is informed and believes that DEFENDANTS, and each of them produced or caused to be produced and distributed or caused to be distributed a “meditation video” entitled, “SOUL LEVEL CLEARING, DNA REPATTERNING, AND ACTIVATION OF THE HIGHER SELF” bearing a “Copyright (c) Toby Alexander, 2014” notice.

The disputed property consists of images — some sort of computer-aided-Spirograph artwork produced by Endre Balogh. Balogh offers prints of these “sacred geometries” for sale at his site for $47 per print. Apparently, a small number of his 445 “geometries” were used without permission in one of Toby Alexander’s videos.

Alexander also sells some stuff, but it mostly falls in the “service” part of “goods and services.” What he offers is priced considerably higher.

PLAINTIFF alleges that none of the DEFENDANTS at any time were issued a license to use any “SACRED GEOMETRY” in any of its publications in any media, including, but not limited to SOUL LEVEL CLEARING, DNA REPATTERNING, AND ACTIVATION OF THE HIGHER SELF that was apparently sold to the public at a price of $977.50.

Alexander offers webinarsTobinars” and a smattering of gratis, “empowering,” spacey pep talks at his site, which congratulates you for the innate “intuition” that brought you there. (Somehow I feel that reading the details of the copyright lawsuit where Alexander is named as a defendant isn’t the sort of “intuition” he has in mind…) One of those pep talks is entitled:

Why You Are Omnipresent, Omniscient, Omnipotent, and Immortal as Now Proven by Science

So you, the reader, have that going for you. Which is nice.

Balogh alleges that Alexander used seven of his “sacred” images in a video running approximately 30 minutes long. There’s probably a case for fair use in there, but I doubt that will be explored. This tends to get overlooked if a commercial enterprise is involved. (Which it shouldn’t, but it does happen quite a bit.)

Nor will the lawsuit — if it makes it to trial — discuss the relative merits/legitimacy of the two parties’ offerings. While this would be much more entertaining than a discussion of the relative merits of Balogh’s infringement claim, the court’s focus will be on the aspects of the alleged infringement. Unfortunately, we can’t view this alleged infringement for ourselves as Balogh has thoughtfully omitted any link to the offending video and Alexander’s YouTube presence consists of stuff all over the place, uploaded under different names. But the alleged infringement probably looks something like this:

According to Balogh, Alexander’s use of six of his 445 “sacred geometries” has managed to gut the market for $47 prints of computer-generated doodling.

While the said “SACRED GEOMETRY” is being unlawfully used by DEFENDANTS, PLAINTIFF is unable to market this same “SACRED GEOMETRY” and any financial benefits from other licensees as such licenses are usually sought on an exclusive use basis.

Seeing as Endre Balogh has only three items registered with the US Copyright Office — only one of which is an image — actual damages will be the only thing he can recover. The filing also lacks any paperwork related to copyright registration, another sign that Balogh’s hundreds of images are protected by only the “automatic” protection afforded it once they were affixed to his hard drive/cloud drive.

He’s asking for $100,000 (and $1 million in punitive damages). Somehow, I think any awarded damages will be significantly lower than that amount. The lack of registration likely explains the lack of “statutory damages” demands, so good work on the part of his lawyer for not making this lawsuit any shakier than it already is.

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Comments on “Artist Claims Soul-Clearing, DNA-Repatterning Motivational Speaker Jacked His Depictions Of 'Sacred Geometries'”

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DannyB (profile) says:

Mecanically Generated sacred geometry

If an image (sacred or not) is generated by purely mechanical means, such as a spirograph or similar device, then it is NOT eligible for copyright. It doesn’t meet the requirement of creativity. It doesn’t need to have much creativity. Just some. This has none.

No. You cannot claim that your parameter settings of the spirograph wheels, or other mechanical initialization is creative. Someone could come up with the same settings just by playing around, by accident, or by results of a random number generator to set the initial values.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Mecanically Generated sacred geometry

If an image (sacred or not) is generated by purely mechanical means, such as a spirograph or similar device, then it is NOT eligible for copyright.

That’s not quite correct, because if that’s the case, then photographers wouldn’t have copyright on their photos. It’d be more correct to say that even with identical parameters put into a machine that generates images, the copyright goes to the person who pressed the button to start the machine and create the image.

JoeCool (profile) says:

Re: Re: Mecanically Generated sacred geometry

No, he’s correct. Photos of famous things have been denied copyright because they weren’t creative. Creative ELEMENTS of a photo can be copyrighted, but the photo in itself has no intrinsic copyright, otherwise you could photograph a blank white wall and sue every house/building that used plain white walls for violating your copyright.

Roger Strong (profile) says:

Re: Mecanically Generated sacred geometry

That has interesting implication in the multi-user online gaming world. No Man’s Sky for example uses a procedural generation system to generate solar systems, planets, weather systems, flora and fauna and their behavior, and buildings and spacecraft. That is, generated by purely mechanical means.

Consider how Lucasfilm/Disney seizes domain names, from back in 1990 to this summer after a bunch of Star Wars domain names they failed to renew were re-registered by others.

The procedurally generated name of a procedurally generated world could be used in a domain name. For a fan site showing images of the procedurally generated scenery and spacecraft. It’s only a matter of time until Lucasfilm/Disney, Sony, EA or others launch legal actions over such a site.

But at least their reinterpretation of copyright law will involve a plenty of creativity.

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