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Vancouver Artist's Copyright Stolen - Again

My friend Lilian Broca is an artist living here, where I do, in Vancouver. She is being horribly “ripped off” right now and you will be amazed at who is doing the stealing — a very high-end fashion house.

Over a period of five years, Lilian created a series of ten large mosaics that depict aspects of the biblical story of Queen Esther. One of her works won a major award at the Florence Biennale and many other prestigious commendations so, of course, she featured images of her work on her own website.

In their winter 2014 collection, Dolce & Gabanna featured clothing made from cloth bearing imagery inspired by the Byzantine mosaics of the Monreale Cathedral in Sicily. The D&G line gained a lot of visibility due to the wide circulation of photographs of popstars Katy Perry and Vanessa Hudgens wearing clothing from the line. Perhaps it was this line that inspired the theft from Lilian.

Thanks to a shrinking world wherein everyone is travelling and has a camera on their cell phone, Lilian recently received some images of clothing also inspired by Byzantine-style mosaics in a high-end fashion store in Istanbul. But these clothes were made of fabric bearing imagery stolen from Lilian’s Queen Esther mosaics. (You can see images of Lilian’s work and the dresses made from imagery stolen from her Queen Esther series by visiting the website Mosaic Art Now).

This isn’t the first time Lilian’s copyrights have been violated. A few years ago, she discovered stolen images of her works were being sold worldwide on a website in Asia. Now a high-end fashion store is selling a line of expensive clothing featuring imagery stolen from Lilian’s work.

The web can be an effective tool for increasing awareness of your work. It can also facilitate theft of your copyrights, and yet makes it easier to discover that theft. It is a complex tool that, like many tools, involves risk to those who use it.

Should Lilian pursue the defence of her copyrights? Sadly, I don’t think so. Even though the thieves may have deep pockets to sue, those deep pockets can facilitate a long and drawn out defence. Defending your rights across international jurisdictions is hugely expensive and the process can be very complex.

Could Lilian have protected herself from her two copyright thefts? I don’t know. I don’t know how an artist can provide images of their work on a website without taking the risk of theft. If you know how it can be done, I’d love to hear from you and what you would do to prevent this from happening to you.

If it does happen to you and you have questions or need advice, the best resource for artists in Canada about copyright law is the CARFAC Copyright Collective.

Comments

I find it truly disheartening that large corporations can steal images and get away with it. We (artists and photographers) need to be more like the music industry which has rules about use of more than ## bars of another song then you owe royalties to the original artist.

The courts need to step up and protect the artists.

This is so rampant in our line of work. It is very sad that such a huge corporation would do such a thing, but really, I'm not a bit surprised.

I had to work so hard to defend one of my colleague's works - it was amazing. This artist lives in Austraila, one of his very popular works was copied, painted and for sale displayed in a small gallery in Washington, USA. I walked by and happened to notice.

I wrote to the artist and pointed out what he had done. I introduced him to the artist that had created the work via email. Despite the overwhelming proof, this young man responded with "It's in the public domain, so I can copy it".

I was horrified to learn that even artists are woefully unaware of the laws around copyright and public domain. Just because 1000 people steal your image and post it on the internet, it is not part of the public domain! Sheesh!

What jaw-dropping beauty Lillian Broca has created, I was already familliar with it.
The correct way to share someone's work is to simply link to their site...like this - here's the piece of work I was referring to above.
Ron Francis - scroll on the menu on the right and look for the piece called "Skateboard". http://www.ronaldfrancis.com/

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