Thursday, April 8, 2010

When imitation is not flattery

Dear Rich: I have a painting design with cupcakes that I do with a palette knife.I am doing this in a painting class I am taking in the local college. Now, this is so petty but there is one person in the class who copies everyone's work. For some reason she is friends with the art teacher in charge and she copied my idea and design and it was picked for an art show here in the school. I of course was totally snubbed and they are making a point of letting me know all this. If she puts this on display as her own idea can I do something about this? We think there are a few things you could do.(1) You could ask her politely to stop copying your work and to come up with something of her own. (2) You could confront her at the art show,and say something like, "Whoa, you totally ripped me off!!" (3)  You could paint a portrait of her and title it "The Person Who Stole My Painting."
Did you want a legal answer? We know what it's like to be ripped off so it's not like we don't feel your pain. But we're hesitant to recommend any legal course of action here. We don't know the extent of the copying or the similarity of the works. Most importantly, what's the damage? Have you lost money or been deprived of sales? That would be the most important question that a court would ask if you were to pursue a copyright claim. Although we believe in enforcing the laws for the causes of good -- this may be one of those cases where the best response will come from you, not the Dear Rich Staff