by Mike Masnick
Wed, Oct 14th 2009 11:48am
If you're sitting around waiting for the Shepard Fairey lawsuit to move forward, here's another brewing situation to follow. As you probably know, the Wall Street Journal is famous for its "stipple" illustrations of various newsmakers -- in fact, some people consider it to be quite an accomplishment in life to be memorialized in a WSJ stipple image. Appropriation artist Jose Maria Cano obviously recognizes this and has created a series of paintings called the Wall Street 100 -- made up of large painted versions of the WSJ's stipple images. There's no effort, whatsoever, to disguise this. In fact, the painting even include snippets of text around the images:
The fact that the collection of images is called the Wall Street 100 might be another tipoff. And yet... the WSJ stipple artist who created the original Obama stipple that was used for the image above is pretty upset about all of this, and says that the Wall Street Journal legal team "is on top of this case." If this actually turns into a lawsuit, there's probably a much stronger copyright claim here than in the Shepard Fairey case, but again, I'm left wondering what good this would do. The complaint from the original artist, Noli Novak, isn't about money (she doesn't even own the rights to the images), but about Cano getting credit for her artwork -- even though it's pretty clear that Cano's work was simply making paintings out of the WSJ images. Cano seems to be doing standard appropriation art, taking something from elsewhere and turning it into "artwork." While you can understand why Novak might be offended, it's difficult to see what sort of "loss" there is here that's worth being concerned about. Why not just be happy that someone decided the little stipple drawings were worthy of being ripped from the newsprint and turned into serious art?
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