There is an internet meme concerning a nativity scene going around again.
The picture at hand is a shows pretty amazing nativity scene. Despite the low res copy, “No Room for them in the Inn” is quite beautiful, and when one looks at a photo of a signed and numbered print, one can only imagine how much heart and soul the artist put into it.
It was not a simple task to determine who created the art in the first place, as whoever created the meme didn’t include the title of the piece, nor did they give the artist credit. Its almost as if someone found it, said cool, and then took it… with no regard for its creator. If I skip the cynicism bit, it is possible, albeit rare that this was a gift to the world, and the artist wanted to remain anonymous… alas, as an engineer, my cynicism often wins out so, so to prove it out one way or another google image search to the rescue!
Well, that wasn’t very helpful… 60,000+ facebook pages with a copy, and 548 copies on the web as well as some derivatives… and which one is the original one?
Being google imagesearch didn’t help, the next thing was to pull it into my photo editor and blow up what appears to be a watermark. Aha, Copyright Somerset House Publishing 2000.
When art is watermarked with a copyright without any additional licensing expressed, and or a statement used with permission, it is highly likely it is not free as in beer. In other words, its pretty likely whole multitudes of folks are using this persons art as if it were freely given to them to use as they wish… including derivative works where Jesus is replaced with a football. Somersets terms are pretty clear that such is not cool without permission… and being no statement is include to suggest they have permission, this is a problem.
As such, the potential is there for facebook to receive a DMCA takedown notice from them, with the result that the images would be removed. I get that intellectual property law is a messy deal, so copying someone else’s art without permission to do so may not necessarily be theft in every ones mind. Otoh a common theme throughout both the old and new testament is that the laborer is worthy of his wages. There also the issue of double honor for those who preach and teach…
From the artists bio page at Concordia publishing…
Concordia Publishing House is proud to represent internationally known Christian artist, Tom duBois. A graduate of the American Academy of Art in Chicago, Mr. duBois faithfully and passionately shares the Gospel message of Jesus Christ through his art.
Granted, this is an internet meme hardly worth the time to blog about in isolation, since there has been no DMCA takedown, and I agree with the underlying premise of it. Otoh temptation to short cut, to do a little evil so much good may come is all around us. Politicians lie about each other to get elected. Public servants throw the law under a bus in order to do well. Business push the limits and bend the law to make more money. Folks fire off a quick text, shave, or put on makeup while rolling down the interstate. Its all of us, and in many cases, the little evil bit doesn’t bite, at least not right away… so we go along fat dumb and happy, until that car shows up out of nowhere, and pfft you are gone.
* The artists webpage at triuneart.org is down, but google provided links to some of his art and writinghs. Its well worth taking a look.