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November 13, 2006

Is Painting Still Like Photography?

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Posted by Alan Wexelblat

In the days before photography permitted instant capture of a scene, arists would be paid to sketch or paint an event or scene and copies of that rendition would appear in broadsheets and other newspaper predecessors. Even today we have sketch artists on courtrooms where photographers are not permitted.

So the question, then, is this: if a painter depicts an actual event or scene is that creative work protected in the same way as a photograph of the event would be?

This is the question being asked by painter Daniel A. Moore, because he is being sued by the University of Alabama which claims that his paintings of Alabama football game scenes violate the University's trademark "crimson and white color scheme".

Moore has been painting football scenes for years, so it's not clear why he's being sued now. He claims to have made millions from paintings and reproductions of them; the University won't comment but seems to have taken umbrage at Moore's move into more merchandise-like things such as mugs and calendars.

Moore doesn't stand on the gridiron sidelines and paint as the action happens - he works from photos and his own experience of the event. One of the contentions raised by the University is that this means his paintings contain no (or not enough) original content to be protected by separate copyright.

Just about everyone in the Times story seems to think this is a dumb lawsuit but mostly on social grounds; it's not clear to me where this falls out from a purely legal standpoint.

Comments (2) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: IP Abuse


1. ovid on November 15, 2006 7:00 AM writes...

I agree totally with your comments regarding the UA lawsuit against artist, Daniel Moore. The University enjoyed a good and profitable relationship with Mr.Moore for a number of years. Part of the reason for the "trademark" lawsuit was for the benefit of CLC, their licensing company. The lawsuit is more for the benefit of the licensing company than anything else. The licensing company has a vested interest in seeing that the Universities and Colleges that they represent, squeeze out every ounce of royalties and fees that they can. Restrictions of individual freedoms and public discourse are part of the cost, if their intended monopoly of expression is upheld. Investigate the money trail and determine the involvement of the licensing companies in their efforts behind this.

It is about greed and the ambitions of a few people to control everything related to a University or College. The irony is that the "taxpayers" are paying for the noose that will be placed around the neck of their freedoms granted by the Constitution and the First Amendment. After all, the University of Alabama is a State University supported by the tax money of the State of Alabama.

Once again, the University of Alabama finds itself in the awkward position of being on the wrong side of the Constitution and promoting the infringement of personal liberty and freedom of expression. This must stop now. The UA is a wonderful institution that has gotten "derailed" by a small group of small minded individuals out for personal gain, just like in the '60s...

Mr. Moore deserves our moral and financial support to stand against this battle for our personal freedom and liberty. What will UA attempt to license next: the air we breathe, the color of the sky on gameday, the green of the turf on the field? "Greed knows, no bounds or limits".

Heaven help us from the pointy headed tyrants, once again.

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2. Thomas Jefferson on April 10, 2009 5:52 PM writes...

Congress shall make no law, nor shall the justice system uphold any law, nor shall the executive branch act on any law created under color of law that would abrogate the rights of the people which are equal rights and individual rights, such rights are enumerated but are not limited to those enumerated and we the people reserve all rights and privileges not expressly delegated to the government and all rights the government holds the people also hold.

freedom of expression is far more important a liberty to protect than the intellectual property rights "claimed" on the experience of seeing or hearing that are claimed and would result in a tax on those liberties by few for a profit. The facts are, that although the state may have created the structures the uniforms and even the artificial grass the state can not claim any title to the image or the sound from them because the photons have not been created by which they can be seen, and these photons come from the sun and are free and can not be taxed.. even if the state does create the photons by way of artificial light they can not claim ownership of them because they can not be contained, such an effort to claim ownership of every photon emanating from a created subject is equal to the claim of property on all the universe for it has been shown through science that photons do not always travel along a congruent path from the subject to your eye, the photons my even blip out of locality to another locality in another part of the world or the universe before continuing on to their destination. any claim of ownership on that which can not be contained should be thrown out and considered void just as the claim of ownership of a breath of air, we can build a box around the air we breath and charge everyone a fee or license to use said unit of air but such a license or fee would be unconstitutional as it would violate our right to life just as the claimed ownership of light or sound emanating from a subject can not be claimed as property because to do so would restrict our life!

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