Saturday, March 28, 2009

When is an idea not an idea?

The image is instantly recognizable for its place in the recent election campaign. Its existence is a testament to the success the democratic party achieved in conscripting influencers to support its cause, such as the artist Shepard Fairey.

Now, it's not without controversy. According to a recent piece in The Guardian, the AP is taking legal action, claiming that the artist stole its image and used it without permission.

Of course, this is not the first time that allegations of copyright infringement have surfaced, nor also in high-profile circumstances. But it raises an interesting question:

When is an idea not an idea? Put an other way, how much change is needed to an original for it to become a different idea?

We think Fairey's cause will be helped by the fact the style that defines the piece has fueled a populist movement, one in which people convert images of themselves into this distinctive graphic form. (Obamiconme). These have been appearing all over the internet, including being used as personal icons in social media venues such as facebook.

That suggests an idea of its own merit to the legal lay people here at Open Fridge Door.

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