George W. Bush Used Top Google Results For All His Paintings; Will He Be Sued For Copyright Infringement?

from the w-is-an-appropriation-artist dept

You may have heard the recent stories about former President George W. Bush's new exhibit of paintings of world leaders. There's been plenty of chatter about the former President picking up painting as a hobby since leaving office. While many may have assumed that he used his experience in meeting with those world leaders in order to have an accurate representation of what they looked like, the truth is that he just pulled results from Google Image search result for each one. Literally. Some people have gone through and done Google Image searches on each of the subjects he painted, and discovered that the paintings were clearly all based on either the very first result, or very near the top search result.
Yes, that's right. George W. Bush is an appropriation artist.

Many of those images are from Wikipedia, where they're under Creative Commons licensing, but others are clearly covered by copyright. As Animal New York notes, the image of former French President Jacques Chirac comes from a photo of the cover of Chirac's book cover, where the copyright on the photo is actually held by the Associated Press.
The Animal New York article is probably correct that it's unlikely that the Associated Press will go after the former President for copyright infringement, but only because it's hypocritical. In the past, the Associated Press did, in fact, sue Shepard Fairey over his iconic image of President Obama, that was also based on an AP photo. Fairey (stupidly) did himself in by trying to destroy evidence and then lie about it, seriously harming his case, and distracting from the central question of whether or not his image was fair use. But, the AP has sued others over that image as well, so you never know.

While the chances are minimal, it certainly would be interesting to have a case in which, of all people, George W. Bush, becomes the poster child for fair use.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    DavidDFW, Apr 9th, 2014 @ 2:14pm

    Surely no other artist would do that

    Really? Go look at some of the creations at Deviant Art. Just don't tell me that all of them were created without another image as the basis.

    Oh yeah, almost forgot [/sarcasm]

     

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  2.  
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    James, Apr 9th, 2014 @ 2:16pm

    Why painting someone will get you a Copyright Infringement? Never heard before

     

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  3.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 9th, 2014 @ 2:28pm

    Really?

    I really like this site since it offers a lot of (highly biased) information on topics that very few organizations cover, but I swear some of the authors are just wrong about how they think the world works.

     

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

  4.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 9th, 2014 @ 2:36pm

    Re:

    see here:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barack_Obama_%22Hope%22_poster#Origin_and_copyright_issues


    The "hope" poster is a painting that resembles a picture taken by a reporter from AP. The result was, a civil lawsuit by AP against the artist that was settled after the judge noted that AP has a good chance of winning and a criminal lawsuit against the artists ended with 300 hours community service and a 25000$ fine.

    All that for doing what bush did. When can we expect this copyright criminal to face justice as well?

    Oh, I forgot, he belongs to the people in power the law only applies to the serfs...

     

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  5.  
    icon
    John Fenderson (profile), Apr 9th, 2014 @ 2:38pm

    Re: Really?

    Can you perhaps explain what the author is wrong about?

     

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

  6.  
    icon
    Mike Masnick (profile), Apr 9th, 2014 @ 2:43pm

    Re: Really?

    I swear some of the authors are just wrong about how they think the world works.

    What did we get wrong in this article?

     

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

  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 9th, 2014 @ 2:44pm

    Re: Really?

    Yeah, it's hard filtering out the sanity from the insanity around here, alas.

     

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

  8.  
    icon
    Beta (profile), Apr 9th, 2014 @ 5:03pm

    fair's fair

    It's true that Mr. Bush will not be sued over these paintings because he is a former president of the United States.

    But let's face it, if he weren't a former president of the United States, no one would ever have looked twice at these wretched paintings.

     

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  9.  
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    Doug (profile), Apr 9th, 2014 @ 5:50pm

    Meritocracy, hah! Mediocracy, surely.

    It hurts my head every time I am forced to be conscious of the fact that Dubya was *president*! It's like a hammer hitting me on the head to remind me we don't live in a meritocracy. If Bush can succeed, one can only conclude that we live in a mediocracy.

     

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  10.  
    identicon
    Joe Dirt, Apr 9th, 2014 @ 6:00pm

    None of you understand copyright law at all!

    Copyright protection for a photograph extends only to those components of a work that are original to the author.

    The subjects face or likeness is never "original" to the author (or photographer).

    While the photographer does own the rights to redistribution of his actual photo, he does not ever own the likeness of a persons face so there is nothing illegal or even wrong in painting someone's face from someone else's photograph.

     

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  11.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Apr 9th, 2014 @ 6:08pm

    Re:

    None of you understand copyright law at all!


    I beg to differ, but you're entitled to your opinion.

    Copyright protection for a photograph extends only to those components of a work that are original to the author.

    Yes. But that includes framing and lighting. And the paintings copy that. So... But if you were to argue that they're fair use, we'd agree with you.

    No one is saying that these are infringing. Just wondering if there's a lawsuit coming.

    The subjects face or likeness is never "original" to the author (or photographer).

    While the photographer does own the rights to redistribution of his actual photo, he does not ever own the likeness of a persons face so there is nothing illegal or even wrong in painting someone's face from someone else's photograph.


    Yes. We agree. And yet, the AP still sued Shepard Fairey over the same damn thing. We agree that this shouldn't be infringing for all the reasons you say. But there have been identical lawsuits.

    So why are you arguing with us?

     

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

  12.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 9th, 2014 @ 6:20pm

    with all due respect, his "artwork" infringes on copyrighted work of certain chimp, who was given paintbrush.

     

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  13.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 9th, 2014 @ 7:37pm

    Re: Re: Really?

    Shhhh.... this place is pure comic gold...

     

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

  14.  
    identicon
    My Name Here, Apr 9th, 2014 @ 8:15pm

    Re: Re:

    And yet, the AP still sued Shepard Fairey

    And yet, it wasn't the same thing. He didn't look at a picture and create a new work by himself, rather he tok the existing work and digitally manipulated it. The underlying work was still there.

    Had he taken a pen and paper and drawn his own version of the original image and worked from there, he wouldn't have had the problems that he did.

    The difference between his work and the painting by Bush is night and day unless (to quote you) "you squint and sneeze, you might sorta, kinda think maybe could be qualified" as the same.

     

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  15.  
    identicon
    Doug (profile), Apr 9th, 2014 @ 9:48pm

    Re: Meritocracy, hah! Mediocracy, surely.

    It hurts my wallet every time I realize that Obama is president now. And that hurt will continue for years to come.

     

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

  16.  
    icon
    Mike Masnick (profile), Apr 10th, 2014 @ 12:33am

    Re: Re: Re:

    And yet, it wasn't the same thing. He didn't look at a picture and create a new work by himself, rather he tok the existing work and digitally manipulated it. The underlying work was still there.

    You're wrong. Both cases are nearly identical. Starting with an image found on Google search, a new image was painted.

    Had he taken a pen and paper and drawn his own version of the original image and worked from there, he wouldn't have had the problems that he did.

    Except, uh, you're wrong. That's exactly what Shepard Fairey did.

    Either way, what you're claiming has no basis in copyright law. At all. So, try again.

     

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  17.  
    identicon
    my name here, Apr 10th, 2014 @ 12:54am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Except, uh, you're wrong. That's exactly what Shepard Fairey did.

    My understanding is that this work was created in photoshop or similar digital tools, using the original image as the source material. Can you provide something that shows this is not true? The original was made in a couple of hours on computer, if I get the story correct.

    what you're claiming has no basis in copyright law

    So you assertion is that using someone else's work, and modifying it digitally negates the copyright on it? Can you suggest how much is enough? When does it become truly transformative and not just derivative?

     

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  18.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 10th, 2014 @ 1:27am

    At least he got familiar with the faces he worked with.
    All presidents should paint a picture of the leaders he/she meets, even if it looks horrible. It would add a little more touch to politics.
    But then, everyone would paint Putin and Obama with devil horns...

     

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  19.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 10th, 2014 @ 2:01am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Ah, the good ol' "It's different BECAUSE COMPUTERS" argument.

     

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  20. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 10th, 2014 @ 4:14am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    You don't understand shit, horse with no name.

    But considering that you're the sort of jackass who thinks Prenda is enforcing copyright law, the above statement is a given.

     

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

  21.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 10th, 2014 @ 5:12am

    Re: Really?

    I really like your comment since it offers a lot of (highly obtuse) non information on topics that very few commenters cover, but I swear some of your opinions are just wrong about how you think the world should work.

     

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

  22.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 10th, 2014 @ 5:14am

    Re: Re: Meritocracy, hah! Mediocracy, surely.

    It hurts society every time a clueless partisan comment is made, always has and always will.

     

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

  23.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 10th, 2014 @ 5:17am

    Re:

    Yeah, just those two - all other world "leaders" are saints.

     

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

  24.  
    identicon
    Reality bites, Apr 10th, 2014 @ 10:05am

    I've seen babies draw better pictures with their poop.

    Bush isn't an artist, he is a cretin, pretending a moronic parasite has talent to humor him is of no benefit to anyone.

    The talent-less drooler should be in prison awaiting his trial.

     

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

  25.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 10th, 2014 @ 8:36pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    can you show that your assertion that is was made using photoshop and that it was made in a couple of hours is true?

    even if true, What does the time frame that it took to create have to do with the creativity of the work.

    Ever hear of transformative worl.

    you are nothing but a Moron with no name

     

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

  26.  
    icon
    Patrick Seitz (profile), Apr 13th, 2014 @ 9:52am

    Don't forget George Zimmerman

    The AP has threatened to sue Zimmerman for using a photo as the basis of one of his paintings.

    Like them or not, Bush and Zimmerman deserve the same fair use protections as the rest of us.

    http://techmediatainment.blogspot.com/2014/02/sourcing-photos-part-2-fair-use.html

     

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

  27.  
    identicon
    Doug, Apr 25th, 2014 @ 7:42am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    If he projected the picture via light onto a canvas and traced it, would that then be an OK transformation? Is the problem that it was done digitally? I hope not, because that wouldn't make any sense.

     

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

  28.  
    identicon
    b.e. singer, May 7th, 2014 @ 6:15pm

    Re: right on....

    Yo Joe,
    You've got it right !!! b.e. singer

     

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


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