Intellectual Property? Copyright? Or just a lot of LOVE?

I was rather proud of the art I designed for a t-shirt this summer. It’s cool but of course it’s a direct ripoff, um, no, I mean, it was inspired by a well known piece. If I show you my design, below:


You will immediately see the resemblance. You might say, oh that was on a postage stamp:

220px Lovestamp

Or you might say, oh, that was a New York City thing. But you would be remembering wrong:

I Love New York svg

Actually, the stamp was based on an design and sculpture by Robert Indiana.  Yes, it was a sculpture first:

200px LOVE Indiana

 But you can see another copy of the same sculpture in New York City. I saw it just a few days ago:

LOVE sculpture NY

Actually I didn’t take that picture, because if you see it on foot, there is always a line of kids waiting to pose for pictures with it. 

Anyway, you can see that my idea for a T-Shirt design was clever but hardly original. I admit to having some guilt about appropriating the design, but also I have been keenly attuned to see who else and where else folks might have borrowed the design.

In Chicago, I saw this:

LI sculp hope 001b

On TV I saw this:

Go On intertitle

In a promotional email from the Institute of Contemporary art I saw this:

GeneralIdea AIDSwallpaper for mc

So, what do you say? How badly did I infringe the copyright of Robert Indiana? Will I be asked to take it down (and destroy the 16 one-of-a-kind t-shirts.) And will I win the case in court, because, “everyone else is copying it”?

Targeted Copyright Enforcement: Deterring Many Users with a Few Lawsuits

Check out Targeted Copyright Enforcement: Deterring Many Users with a Few Lawsuits(from Freedom to Tinker:

“One reason the record industry’s strategy of suing online infringers ran into trouble is that there are too many infringers to sue. If the industry can only sue a tiny fraction of infringers, then any individual infringer will know that he is very unlikely to be sued, and deterrence will fail.” (from: Targeted Copyright Enforcement: Deterring Many Users with a Few Lawsuits)

The post links to an article which explains a ‘scheme’ to still be able to deter infringers: basically, the enforcer tells the world that they will sue the infringers alphabetically. In other words, the one whose name (or other ID) starts with an “a” will get sued first.

Well this is supposed to deter the “Ables” and “Andersons” and so on, which now will put the “Bakers” and “Bozos” at risk, and so on.

Sounds kind of like the hangman’s dillemma.

Do you think it would work?