A while ago1, before Flickr became my website of choice to host photos, I made some t-shirts and posters at the online print shop, Zazzle, from photos I took. I made a few for myself, but afterwords, left the account there, active, in case somebody stumbled upon one of my designs and decided to buy it. Not likely actually, and exactly zero people have done so in the six years or so I had the account.2
Today I got an email from Zazzle, reading:
Thank you for your interest in Zazzle.com, and thank you for publishing products on Zazzle.
Unfortunately, it appears that your product, Garfield Conservatory, contains content that is not suitable for printing at Zazzle.com.
We will be removing this product from the Zazzle Marketplace shortly.
The details of the product being removed are listed below:
• Product Title: Garfield Conservatory
• Product Type: Print
• Product ID: 228639274743114826
• Result: Not Approved
• Policy Violations:
o Design contains an image or text that is copyrighted.
If you are interested in purchasing Official Licensed Merchandise from Zazzle please visit: www.zazzle.com/brands
Notice that I had modded the image in Photoshop so that it resembled nothing so much as just a magic marker sketch4. So for all the Zazzle zealots knew, I drew the image by hand. Is copyright law really that much in favor of factory artists like Chihuly? He’s famous for churning out thousands of glass pieces in his sweatshop, touching none of them, having his interns do all the actual work, he just markets the pieces. So my manipulated photo violated this copyright, somehow. Seems like this would be protected under “fair use” doctrine, especially since it isn’t a straight photo.
Strange world we live in.
I have deleted the remaining four items that were still listed at Zazzle, and have requested my account be deleted as well.
Funny also, on the Chihuly wikipedia page:
In 2006, Chihuly filed a lawsuit against a pair of glassblowers, including Robert Kaindl, whom he accused of copying his work. Chihuly was unsuccessful: the glass blower federation argued that Chihuly’s designs feature basic shapes; therefore any novice would be able to create the spiral glass which is featured in many of Chihuly’s composition
Looking at the simple vase floating in a pond – how could you copyright something as mundane?Footnotes:
- somewhere around 2003 [↩]
- of course, I haven’t added any new items there in six years either – my initial experience was pretty shitty to tell the truth. The shirts were poor quality and the prints faded within a few wash cycles. I recall the entire “creation” process being incredibly awkward and cumbersome – the tools were poorly engineered and clunky. They might have improved since 2003, or maybe not [↩]
- can’t tell for sure because the image had already been deleted and long ago that Google cache no longer had a copy [↩]
- my Photoshop skills not that polished at this time. Ahem. [↩]