A couple of days ago, I asked a simple question of George Zimmerman's latest artwork: Why on Earth was it, like the $100,000 artwork sold before it, based on a copyrighted image? Did Zimmerman honestly think that no one was going to notice? It only took me all of five seconds to find the original AP image when I wrote the article.
One has to wonder what Zimmerman was thinking. The Associated Press would certainly be made aware of anything Zimmerman does, as he remains big news. There's no way someone in his position could hide the fact that he used an AP photo to try and make thousands of dollars.
Predictably, it didn't take the AP long to find out what he had done and to send a firmly worded letter to Zimmerman's attorney, Jayne Weintraub.
"George Zimmerman clearly directly copied an AP photo to create his painting of Florida State Attorney Angela Corey."
The AP Photo, as noted in my previous article, was taken by freelance photographer Rick Wilson. Congrats Wilson, it's looking like Zimmerman will not be fleecing you after all!
— Donald R. Winslow (@donaldrwinslow) January 25, 2014
Every time I see "George Zimmerman" on my timeline I just wanna throw my phone.
— Shay La Vie (@shaydechelle) January 24, 2014
This drama is far from over, as Zimmerman is now threatening to sue the Associated Press for daring to stomp on his newly found artistic freedom.
He lashed out via Twitter with the following remark:
No worries AP, I'll just take whatever U sue me for off your tab when I'm done suing you 🙂 Or... I could put out how much U offered me 2..
— George Zimmerman (@TherealGeorgeZ) January 24, 2014
I'm sure the AP is shaking in their boots at that.
In all seriousness, Zimmerman might want to think twice before tangling with the AP, as this is not their first time taking on an artist for copyright infringement.
Artist Shepard Fairey found himself at the center of legal troubles in 2009 over the far more famous and valuable Obama images that gained international attention and familiarity during his first campaign. The matter would be settled out of court in 2011 for roughly $1.6 million. This in addition to a fine and community service.
This should be an interesting case where "fair use" is concerned, and could prove to be a landmark decision should the matter go to court.
Again I say to Zimmerman: Stick figures. Draw stick figures. Someone will buy your art and you won't find yourself sued into a hole in the ground.
UPDATE: Apparently Jayne Weintraub no longer represents George Zimmerman, and has responded that she had forwarded the AP's cease-and-desist letter to her former client.
Image via Robert Zimmerman Jr.