Saturday, April 26, 2008

Louis Vuitton Sues Artist Over "Simple Living" Darfur Charity Image


Artist Nadia Plesner created this image to satirize the lack of media attention a genocide like Darfur gathers compared with the relative overexposure of say, skinny white women with little dogs and designer bags.

Louis Vuitton (who one writer claims, had ties to the Nazi Party) has responded with a lawsuit demanding that Plesner stop producing the image (which appears on shirts and as a poster print) and an additional $20K per day in damages for copyright infringement.

Now I know very little about copyright law so I have no idea where satire ends and infringement begins so I can't comment with any authority there. I do however think it's in poor taste (to say the least) that LV would even bother with a lawsuit. For all the money they are spending in legal fees, they could have just as easily made large splashy donation to Save Darfur! instead and reaped the benefits of good press.

15 comments:

aziza said...

I think she probably shouldn't've copied the bag exactly. Should've made it look like a knock off so it wasn't copyright infringment. But I think the real reason behind the suit is that LV doesn't want be to connected with such satire, even if it's true.

Ondo Lady said...

Congratulations you have been tagged.

Claire said...

Linked to you!
The Fashion Bomb

AJ Plaid said...

Co-sign, Brigitte.

Ariel Burke said...

That is true. I agree with earlier response. LV probably feels that images do not coincide with their brand image and doesnt want to be associated with it. You are right they could have donated that money to the cause instead.

naysue said...

And where can we purchase a shirt with that image? ;-)

Anonymous said...

The bag isn't identical to his bags. His is a registered trademark and if she was using that.. he would have a case. There are thousand of knock-off bags that are similar to those and they can't sue because they aren't using his exact images.

dwassel said...

Actually, a huge reason why LV initiated the suit is because by allowing others to use your brand image/name without paying for it, you can actually lose your copyright. For example, when you say "xerox" instead of "photocopy" or "kleenex" instead of "tissue." That's why the LV lawyers fight it - you protect your copyright or you lose it.

dwassel said...

Learn your copyright law. The rule is that if there can be consumer confusion, it's actionable. It doesn't have to be an exact replica.

Anonymous said...

There's some confusion between trademark with copyright. But TM seems like it should be applicable here too, since they are using a portion of the LV logo (I think.. don't know much about LV). Xerox concerns TM, not a copyright, but the rest was true. And consumer confusion is actionable in TM.

Copyright allows a "fair use" defense for things like "criticism, comment..." and more. To determine if they can use fair use, they look at -
1. purpose of the use (e.g., to make money v. some nonprofit use)
2. nature of the copyrighted work
3. how much was taken from the original (both quantitative and qualitative).
4. the impact on potential market (e.g., LV's potential in the market of Darfur charity)

It's not a yes/no answer, and you don't just add up how many of the four go one way or another. Here - I can't see how LV can possibly win in copyright. Criticism and education is precisely what fair use is for. And I don't see them winning a TM battle either - they'd be hard pressed to prove that consumers actually thought LV put this ad out.

It's just intimidation.

Naturally Sophia said...

You are right! The money should have been donated to Darfur causes rather than squandered in legal fees. I think the satire in the image is genius but perhaps the artist was careless in following the copyright law.

Heba Al said...

uh guys look at the bag closely, it does not say LV, it says LS. So wtf are they suing for, she might've used the same design, but not the letters. so yeah she could say it was for anything.

Brigitte said...

naysue, you can buy the shirt or poster at the artist's website which is linked in the text.

Thanks everyone for the comments.

Anonymous said...

the fact that the infringer is putting it on t-shirts and making copies for other use, means it is actionable. this is not allowed.

fair use would be posting the pic for people to critique without the person mass producing or making money from it.

Anonymous said...

I find the LV Child image by Beejoir makes a far better statement.

http://souledoutstudios.co.uk/LVChildbyBeejoir.html