Thursday, September 6, 2007

Should We Even Care?

There is a lot of stencil art on the streets here in San Francisco. Much of it is original work, but some has obviously been appropriated.

Photo: ©2007 David W. Sumner

The stencil image (above) of Billie Holiday is on Van Ness Avenue. The original image is a photo by the late William Gottlieb.

Portrait of Billie Holiday: ©William Gottlieb

So what do we make of this? Is it an homage to Gottlieb? Is it fair use? Is it a copyright infringement? Given the context does it matter one way or another?

What if Gottlieb, were he alive, came along and signed his name to image on the sidewalk? Would that upset the person who made the stencil and painted the image on the concrete?

Should we even care?


John W. Wall said...

Good sleuthing, Dave! I would never have recognized or thought twice about the image. I might have wondered how Gap expected to sell clothes with it. As for caring, who's got time. Certainly not Gottleib. Or Billie, for that matter.

John W. Wall said...

By the way, this obit here on Gottleib shows he was a guy with a lot more class than any rip-off graffiti-sprayer.

David W. Sumner said...

I hear you John. Challenging this stuff could be a full time job. And I mean for the artist of the original work. People who rip off images will always find a way to do it. Very uncreative folk they are. At least we have venues like these blogs to try to increase the awareness that as cool as it may be to see Billie Holiday's image on the sidewalk, and even harmless, it's still the theft of another artist's work.