(Related to this post http://hedcuts.blogspot.com/2009/10/jose-maria-cano-is-con-artist-he-uses.html )

No juicy developments to report on sorry, but thank you for all your comments and a lively and informative conversation. I can't possibly reply to all, but I'll do my best to cover all major issues you brought up.

Reading your comments, I'm convinced now even more that this issue is very unique in terms of legalities. Valid points could be made by both sides, but I think only a in a court of law can it really be clarified. I don't even know what to call it, so you're right ... I shouldn't be using terms I can't prove are correct.

All I know is this: I see a drawing which I made, copied and displayed as somebody else's art. It's not a small part of a painting ... it makes up the whole painting! Does it matter how he copied it? How large it is? He painstakingly recreated it dot by dot. It's not easy to "just get over it" so excuse me for expressing my displeasure. If this issue can simply be boiled down to an uninformed illustrator's whining, I doubt it would have crated such a long debate.
I have nothing to gain from this. I'm merely exposing the practice.

About the process I use to make my art:

Of course my drawings are based on photos! What is the point of even bringing this up? I make spot illustrations not fine art. My assignment is to create a close likeness of a subject based on a photo using a specific pointillist technique for an article in a daily newspaper. I am creating a completely unique piece of art and you could never mistaken it for a photo it's based on. And yes, of course the Journal has permissions for these photos. It's childish to even question that!

In any case, a commentator by the name of XenonOfActicus summed it up very eloquently (much better than I can) and it reflects exactly how I feel about this:

"Yes, your WSJ stipple work was a translation of an existing image (photo) into a new medium. The difference here is that you:
(presumably) had permission from the copyright-owner to use that image
made some substantial transformative visual changes to the image.

Whereas Jose:
Did not (presumably) have permission from the copyright owner (WSJ) or Noli (the artist) to use the image.
Despite changing the medium into a more difficult one (wax) did not contribute any transformative change.

In addition, by not providing any credit to the original artist, Jose implicitly allows viewers to think he may be the artist responsible for the stipple stylization.

Don't let criticism from dorks get you down. Even if you weren't the photographer, even if you don't own the copyright to your work-for-hire for the WSJ, your intellectual property rights are being disresepcted and should be honored properly.

For those who would cite Warhol and Campbells, one could argue that nobody could have mistakenly assumed Warhol designed the soup can. That is not the case here. Clearly a number of people have been mistaken that Jose was the artist behind the stipple-style transformation."
Thanks Xenon! ;-)

If you want to know more about hedcuts, how they're done, what's involved, how it started and evolved throughout the years, or just to ask any question, you can join our hedcut forum at http://sec.online.wsj.com/community/groups/wsj-stippledot-drawingshedcuts-571/topics/.

How different are they?

UPDATE 2: http://hedcuts.blogspot.com/2009/10/hot-wax-remix.html
UPDATE 3: http://hedcuts.blogspot.com/2009/10/from-boo-hoo-to-brouhaha.html


Anonymous said...

The dude who copied your work should be put out to pasture on this website.

Seth said...

Mr. Cano's work indeed exceeds the rights of fair use in the United States. However, this is often a difficult concept for the layman to grasp. It even confuses judges and lawyers.

It is better to make an analogy. Had Mr. Cano made a painting of a famous architect's building, for example, would this exceed fair use? And how would this be different than your case? The answer is simply that a building is not a painting. By transforming his view of the building into a different form, there is sufficient addition and reinterpretation to call the product a new work.

In the case of his work involving your stipple portrait, his use of wax paraffin is not transformative enough to merit being considered a "new work." He has simply taken your illustration and created a larger illustration.

Such cases are never completely cut and dry. Mr. Cano does interpret your work directly from the pages of the newspaper, including the surrounding text. While there is some transformation in his work, it does not rise to a sufficient level to become a new work. Indeed, his work resembles yours so closely that it would be almost impossible to determine that an additional artist was involved without being informed as such.

Alan said...

The main issue here is one of your moral rights to the work, which is separate from the copyright (owned by the WSJ if your arrangement is staff or work for hire)...and in the EU and elsewhere, it's a recognized right. There's a treaty that the US hasn't signed that makes moral rights an actionable issue, separate from copyright, but so far we in America are behind the europeans here. Le sigh.

Anonymous said...

the irony here is that this case sounds similar to the brouhaha raised over Shepard Fairey's hope poster. Namely his appropriation of a photograph. forgive me if im wrong but it appears these images are also derived from the same photo Fairey used. Everyone loves that photo of obama.

Anonymous said...

Did you not use a photograph of President Obama to make your drawing? Therefore copying the photographer's work of art? A copy of a copy of a copy...

As an artist myself I feel like even though he copied your work he made the painting and then left the words surrounding the portrait from the paper. It's obviously his own work even though it's subject matter is your drawing. (Which is fantastic, by the way. I've always wondered about the portraits done for the WSJ.)

I can see why you're angry. But then again, how many people see your drawing when they're flipping through the pages of the WSJ every day? I guarantee da Vinci never had that large of an audience. van Gogh barely sold 3 paintings his entire life and your portrait is reprinted for each copy of the WSJ that's made. You're perhaps one of the most viewed artists in the world.

cyphunk said...

i agree with your frustration and feel it justified. obviously this is an area where the law doesnt really distribute credit sufficiently. I would only encourage you to try to look if there is a way this could be handled that would benefit you and jose. i know nothing about the artist myself but from a quick look i assume that with these pieces its procedure and pop-art. if i were in your shoes i'd attempt to contact the artist, maybe visit him for a coffee, just to connect on a human level. you might find that he can relate to your issue and how it frustrates you and maybe the two of you can find a way to resolve it. The benefit to you of working together to resolve this could be significant.

REHTSE said...

Wow, your work is awesome.

If you want a piece of advice, talk with a lawyer with knowledge in Copyright laws.

Anonymous said...

Amazing how many misinformed opinions and comments on this issue have been posted.

This is one of the most egregious examples of copyright violation I have seen. But yet it is very difficult to win these cases because no matter how many times you explain the concept of fair use to people they just don't get it. Everyone these days has an expert opinion.

The Crap Blog Detective said...

I love spot the difference thingies

G.~ said...

Congratulations on making blogs of note!

manos symeonakis said...

i always admired your work in the WSJ. And I'm quite sure you're the one who's gonna be remembered for it.

keep it up

Banco de Imágenes Gratuitas said...

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I found your blog thank to Blog Of Note.

And you know why?

Because today, your blog is one a those.


Cheers and best regards from Canada.

Jose Luis Avila Herrera
My photoblog

FloMc said...

Your work IS awsome! And even though I'd be really angry if someone plagiarized any of my material (I know that isn't the correct word to use), Mr. Cano has bestowed the highest form of flattery - COPYING YOU! The jerk.

boy_angel said...


Anonymous said...

You should look up the case concerning

Sherrie Levine:


If it follows suit you will loose.

Tom Dougherty said...

Anonymous, I wouldn't blame her if she didn't take legal counsel from someone who doesn't know the difference between the words "loose" and "lose".