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AP wants George Zimmerman to suffer for his art

AP wants George Zimmerman to suffer for his art

Claims painting of Angela Corey just a copy of AP photo

Last month, Zimmerman earned a winning bid of just over $100,000 on eBay for one of his paintings.

The Associated Press, however, says that Zimmerman’s latest painting is a direct copy of one of the news agency’s photos and is demanding that any sale of the artwork be halted.

From the Associated Press:

The Associated Press has demanded that George Zimmerman halt the sale of one of his paintings because the news agency says it directly copies an AP photo.

Zimmerman’s painting depicts Jacksonville-based prosecutor Angela Corey holding her thumb and fingers together. An apparently made-up quote Zimmerman added to the piece reads, “I have this much respect for the American judicial system.” Corey’s office prosecuted Zimmerman for the 2012 shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. Zimmerman was acquitted of second-degree murder last summer.

Zimmerman’s brother, Robert Zimmerman Jr., posted an image of the painting Wednesday on Twitter and tweeted a day later that they were in negotiations with possible buyers.

The news agency said in its letter that Zimmerman’s painting is a direct copy of an AP photo taken at the April 2012 news conference where Corey announced Zimmerman would be charged with murder. It was taken for the AP by freelancer Rick Wilson. The news cooperative asked that any sale be blocked — and that, if there has been a sale, that the AP be paid damages.

“George Zimmerman clearly directly copied an AP photo to create his painting of Florida State Attorney Angela Corey,” AP spokesman Paul Colford said in a written statement.

The letter was sent to Jayne Weintraub, one of the attorneys who has previously represented George Zimmerman.  While Weintraub says she no longer represents Zimmerman, she indicated that she would forward the letter to him, according to the AP.

Rick Wilson, the photographer who took the photo for the AP, explained that he was uncomfortable with the photo being used in the painting for profit.  He has also retained an attorney.

From the Orlando Sentinel:

Wilson said he first learned that Zimmerman had used his photo when a Boston-based photographer called and alerted him. Soon, “I started getting emails… other phone calls, people were texting me the link to news stories,” he said.

Wilson took the photograph as a freelancer for the Associated Press, and said the AP owns its copyright.

He said he’d feel differently if Zimmerman was painting it for purely personal or therapeutic reasons — but not for profit.

“That to me crosses a line… the fact that he’s trying to profit and pass off, basically, a photograph as his own original artwork and all he did was basically manipulate it,” Wilson told the Sentinel.

Artist Shepard Fairey found himself in hot water with the AP after he was accused of using one of the news agency’s photos to create the well-known “HOPE” poster depicting Barack Obama.  After a legal dispute, the two sides settled in 2011.  Fairey was also later sentenced to probation for criminal contempt in connection with that legal matter.

(Featured image: Orlando Sentinel video)


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George Zimmerman was likely unaware that copying a published news photograph was a copyright infringement. He should take this painting off the market and write it off as a practice canvas.

George can always work from printed screen shots from a video or take his own photos of Angie, Bernie, John Guy, Richard Mantei and Judge Nelson (if he’s planning to do a series).

Other possible series: ‘Jail Cell Interiors I Have Known’ and ‘Conflicts With Women and In-Laws.’

Ridiculous premise! Norman Rockwell used to paint form photographs! Someone is being disingenuous who knows better and is trying to twist public opinion against Zimmerman because he believes the media pap.

The guy is “uncomfortable” with Zimmerman allegedly painting the AP photo for profit. Thus speaks one of the new castrati in the language of women. “Uncomfortable”. Man up, dude, and find less female ways to express yourself.

Karen Sacandy | January 24, 2014 at 8:11 pm

“Uncomfortable” with Zimmerman making profit? The photographer took it for “profit.”

Really, what a crock.

DavidJackSmith | January 24, 2014 at 8:39 pm

Hang on a sec. The Obama “photo” was the ACTUAL photograph manipulated via computer software.

That is the artist took (stole) the ACTUAL image

Now I can see the logic where somebody PHOTOGRAPHS a painting, thereby infringing copyright, but vice versa?

Making an artistic interpretation of a NEWS photograph.

    L.N. Smithee in reply to DavidJackSmith. | January 24, 2014 at 9:26 pm

    Hang on a sec. The Obama “photo” was the ACTUAL photograph manipulated via computer software.

    That is the artist took (stole) the ACTUAL image

    Now I can see the logic where somebody PHOTOGRAPHS a painting, thereby infringing copyright, but vice versa?

    Shepard Fairey does not, to my knowledge, use software to create his images. He silk-screens posters and spray-paints stencils, among other methods. He’s absolutely capable of copying the Obama wire photo without the aid of Photoshop.

    I think Fairey’s overrated and a bit of a poseur (IMHO he keeps engaging in unlawful graffiti to atone for his uncool profiteering), but I’m not going to say he’s not talented.

To be honest, I’m suffering a bit right now as a result of George’s art.

pass off, basically, a photograph as his own original artwork

Zimmerman’s piece sure doesn’t look like a photograph to me.

Since there is zero chance that anyone could confuse the photo for the painting, where’s the beef?

Sure looks like Fair Use to me. He’s changed the image and turned it into a political satire.

IANAL, but maybe, given the caption, it would fall under Fair Use and satire?

Especially if he was inspired by the photograph, drawing it himself, not by projecting it or some other method and tracing it.

Maybe he should donate it to a museum or some other organization related to causes such as his?

Wonder what legal precedents are out there as well.

I am not a lawyer, but there is this case:

Campbell v. Acuff-Rose Music, 510 U.S. 569 (1994)

A hip hop group called 2 Live Crew downright copied Roy Orbison’s Pretty Woman. They made some minimal changes and sold the song. When sued, they alleged fair use because the song “was a parody” of the original.

The case went to the Supreme Court, which ruled that:

… a commercial parody can qualify as fair use. That money is made does not make it impossible for a use to be fair; it is merely one of the components of a fair use analysis.

(Full disclosure: That quote is from wikipedia. Please don’t shoot me)

In all honesty, I find Zimmerman’s painting to be such an eyesore that I can only accept it as some form of satirical criticism or parody.
If the hip-hoppers got away with it, I don’t see why this case should be any different.

What’s good for the goose…

I would think fair use. There is substantial alteration of image, an impression brought together with an explicit political message.

Here is how to thoroughly refute the AP’s case against GZ:

The picture that the AP took was done at a public appearance, with many other people both watching and taking pictures or videos.

For example, Ms. Corey’s exact same expression can be found at about the 1:19 mark on this video:

So even putting aside any other defenses (fair use, etc).. The AP’s copyright cannot extend to any use of that particular pose, since at this event was being captured by many other media sources on film and video.

Therefore, the ONLY thing that can be protected by the use of that copyright is the duplication and use of that EXACT picture.

    If Zimmerman painted it rather than Photoshop it I don’t see where the issue is. The photographer’s use of “basically” is abusing the English language. As you say, a lot of people saw the video – it’s probably seared into Zimmerman’s own memory – and copyrighting life itself is not in the cards.

    Uncle Samuel in reply to zencycler. | January 25, 2014 at 4:49 am

    Sounds like a great defense! Hope George is reading this blog.

Not A Member of Any Organized Political | January 25, 2014 at 12:25 am

The AP is full of itself.

They need to be sued into oblivion.

I don’t find Zimmerman’s art very interesting or collectable but consider this–1988

That recently sold for $26 million.

    Uncle Samuel in reply to Vince. | January 25, 2014 at 4:54 am

    Wood’s words on the Apocalypse painting may have been prophetic.
    SELL THE HOUSE – housing bubble, bail outs
    SELL THE CAR – auto industry, bail outs
    SELL THE KIDS – rabid dedication to abortion/pansexuality – bail out of Planned Parenthood (and other abortuary enterprises?) hundreds of millions for the promotion of pansexuality in schools

PersonFromPorlock | January 25, 2014 at 7:53 am

Just as an historical note, many 18th Century landscape drawings were done using a camera obscura, which projected an image of the subject onto a sheet of paper. The artist then traced the image.

george needs to go silent or someone will silence him.
his family needs to step in and stress this.

    Exiliado in reply to dmacleo. | January 25, 2014 at 10:09 am

    Quite the opposite.
    The greatness of this nation comes from the belief, the ideal, that nobody has the right to silence him. Lose that, and you lose America.

    George Zimmerman is just some guy, some nobody with the bad luck of having to defend his life against a random thuggish attack, and then against a corrupt political machine.
    He goes silent, that’s all he is, a nobody.
    He opens up and keeps exposing the unamerican crap pulled on him by the powers that be, he will become an American hero.
    That how I see it.

It’s a great painting, whether a recreation from a specific photo or not. I didn’t know who the woman was in the picture, but I started laughing right away. It’s total sarcasm or a lovely bit of mocking. The use of red, like she’s a demon from hell, and having her fingers in a pinching gesture is brilliant. GZ gets modern art quite well, even better than the stuff I’ve seen in museums, where most of the paintings are indecipherable. Nice work.

    Well, if you’d seen the original press conference on video, like I did back in the day… yes, this is exactly what she looked like, in Power Red attire, decrying the horror of it all and her standing tall with the victims of this perpetrator.

Go ahead and put the original photo into a photo editor program, like fotoflex (online no need to download software). Play around and apply one effect on top of the other and you can come close to George’s “painting”. Betting he did not look at the photo and painstakingly repainted it. Nope. George, George, George…….

Andy Warhol’s CAMPBELL SOUP cans sure look like their tomato soup cans to me.

The AP just wants to give Zimmerman grief. He didn’t copy the image! He used Corey’s PUBLIC SPEECH … which was recorded by the media and sent out all over. All Zimmerman did was SEE IT! Then, he made his painting. And, he wants to make money PAINTING!

Most people don’t make $100,000 a year! Zimmerman’s entitled to sell his art. And, this whole fuss only increases his value as a painter.

Mark O’Mara or Don West should buy this painting and hang it up in their office. But they’ll have to carry insurance on it!

As to a “case” against Zimmerman, HELLO. Angela Corey is a PUBLIC FIGURE! I’d bet she even scheduled that press conference!

Florida being Floriduh though … They’re not gonna come off well thinking they can “get” Zimmerman any which way they can.

At Zimmerman’s next speeding stop, with the police look for paint boxes?

Will Judge (Farley ridiculous half)-Nelson rule that the painting has to be destroyed?

Another story with legs.