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  1. #1
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    Hypothetical copyright question

    I saw the painting 1807, Friedland by Meissonier, and recognized the pose of Napoleon. I had seen it earlier in a drawing by Finnish artist Albert Edelfelt.

    Attachment 586437Attachment 586439

    It's not a copy, it's not even the same military leader depicted (however, the painting depicts a war in 1807, and the drawing one in 1808 - but it's a different war, but linked to the first one. This is really a story for another time...). The angle is a bit different, the pose a bit different. Clearly, it's just an inspiration, and not a rip-off.

    But with the recent discussion about the infringement on the picture of Obama, I thought, what if this was done today? How much closer would the drawing have to be to the painting before it would be considered an infringement?


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  3. #2
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    In my british lit. class we went over how the idea of copyrighting is not only a new idea but a paradigm shift. The whole idea is still evolving. The laws are continually being reshaped today. Given that, I don't think that there is anything set in stone.

    Also while protecting work from theft, modern copyrights also prevent the improvement and reshaping of a work. Early written works have numerous versions written by different people. There wasn't really an idea of conceptual / intellectual property; which, gave people freedom to explore ideas previously used. Today once an idea is set out if someone wants to work with it they have to go back to the original creator. To directly answer your question I would say it comes down to the circumstances more so than the similarity.

    Of course you could make the converse argument that simply following legal documents will tell you how close you can get, and that protecting individual rights is more important than creating living, dynamic ideas. Personally I think this only holds when something is a direct copy (mostly identical), and from what I understand this is how some cases work.

    Dunno if that answers your question, but hopefully it will get the ball rolling.

  4. #3
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    I doubt it's even an inspiration. A soldier in uniform on horseback saluting his troops would be an absolutely stock pose of the time; you could probably find dozens of similar images.

    Really, it's like, "I saw this painting of a naked lady reclining, and then I saw another one..."
    I was once on the receiving end of a critique so savagely nasty, I marched straight out of class to the office and changed my major (sketchbook).

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  6. #4
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    I understand that, and I agree with you to an extent. But it just got me thinking, what if this was done today, in this (arguably) copyright-crazy time. What if the drawing had depicted Napoleon as well, and not von Döbeln? What if the angle was just a little more similar, and the horse didn't have one leg lifted off the ground?

    Of course I don't think this example was foul play by any means. I'm just wondering how close an artist today can get to a iconic pose and idea done previously.

  7. #5
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    You see plenty of similar poses here and there in older works of art. Hell, I see plenty of re-used poses in artwork today.

    I'm pretty sure there's no copyright infringement here. If these, however, where made in this point of time, then the first would probably get all whiny about the second and try to sue him for his money, despite the fact that the pose isn't exactly his copyright. It's how it's becoming these days.
    ------
    Wait... What were we talking about?

  8. #6
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    Depends on what it is and what you end up doing with it.


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  10. #7
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    I think it would only be infringement if it were clear that a specific image had been copied.

    Copyright protects the individual image... it does not protect ideas, poses, genres, etc.
    "Change is a virtue my friend... if you want to escape, all you have to do is make up your mind."
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  12. #8
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    "Good artists copy, Great artists steal."
    Pablo Picasso

    http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Pablo_Picasso

  13. #9
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    God, I hate that quote.

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  15. #10
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    Meh - you had to figure SOMEone was going to say that...
    "Change is a virtue my friend... if you want to escape, all you have to do is make up your mind."
    John Cale / Bob Neuwirth


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  16. #11
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    I'm pretty sure Picasso only said that to be able to laugh at people who are actually quoting it.
    Last edited by algenpfleger; February 9th, 2009 at 05:24 PM.

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