Photog Glen E. Friedman Suing Artist For Infringement of RUN DMC Image

Photographer Glen E. Friedman is suing artist Theirry Guetta for copyright infringement in a case that echoes the recently settled legal dispute between the Associated Press and Shepard Fairey. To create his iconic “Hope” poster of Obama, Fairey used an image of Obama taken by a photographer working for the Associated Press without permission. The AP claimed infringement, while Fairey argued fair use. The parties settled recently, with neither admitting defeat.

Thierry Guetta is accused of using a well-know Friedman image of hip-hop pioneers RUN DMC as the basis for several artworks, including “posters, lithographs, paintings and other art,” according to the complaint filed by Freidman and his lawyers in a California district court.

Friedman alleges that Guetta’s use of the image has caused “substantial damage to [Friedman's] business in the form of diversion of trade, loss of income and profits, and a dilution of the value of its rights.”

In establishing copyright, the complaint notes that the image of RUN DMC was included in a copyrighted book Friedman published in 1994. The complaint also notes that Guetta has sold products based on the copyrighted image.

In their answer to the complaint, Guetta and his lawyers deny that Guetta had any knowledge that he was infringing on Friedman’s copyright. They claim that Guetta’s work is protected by the First Amendment (free speech) and that if any use of the copyrighted work is proved, it is fair use.

A trial date has not been set.

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8 Responses to “Photog Glen E. Friedman Suing Artist For Infringement of RUN DMC Image”

  1. Tweets that mention PDN Pulse » Blog Archive » Photog Glen E. Friedman Suing Artist For Infringement of RUN DMC Image -- Topsy.com Says:

    [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Photo District News, PhotojournSG, Itaysha Jordan, Peter Huoppi, Conor C. Risch and others. Conor C. Risch said: RT @pdnonline: Photog Glen Friedman is suing artist T. Guetta for © infringement for his use of iconic RUN DMC pic. http://bit.ly/gEMTye [...]

  2. Interested Party Says:

    “…Guetta and his lawyers deny that Guetta had any knowledge that he was infringing on Friedman’s copyright.”

    Since when is ignorance of the law a defense? How is producing “artwork” for profit considered fair use? Lastly, how is directly ripping off a photograph by turning it into b/w line art (which I could do in Photoshop in about 15 seconds, and maybe a couple more minutes to remove the background) “art” anyway?

  3. tristanography Says:

    I think friedman is fully justified here,

  4. dbltapp Says:

    Copyright law needs to be updated to include criminal penalties for infringement.

  5. Jeax Couvade Says:

    That defense is going nowhere. Guetta needs to stop ripping Friedman off and get out his checkbook.

  6. Christine Says:

    This is how Jeff Koons lost over “String of Puppies” because the court decided that a new work had not been made and it did not constitute fair use. It didn’t help that he told the workshop making the sculptures to make it “exactly like the photo”. This makes me sad – all it takes is a call to the photographer or licencing agency. It’s not easier to ask forgiveness than permission when copyright is involved, and even though I am an artist, my sympathy always lies with the photographers when this happens.

  7. aj Says:

    Blatant, conscious and willful copyright infringement. I suppose even his parents never told him taking something that is not yours, without permission, is not right.

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