Have we beaten this to death? I mean the Copycat and the Original Cat, which I’ve already referred to twice before, here and here. But Randy Kennedy’s item, “Photographer Wins Suit Against Designer,” in the Arts Briefly column of The New York Times, revived the issue for me — particularly his description of the plagiarism involved.
A French judge ruled that John Galliano’s fashion ads “too closely mimicked a technique” created by William Klein. (An example of Klein’s technique, right.) In other words, the plagiarism did not involve an exact image but rather the imitation of a style — or as the Associated Press put it, “[the judge] said the ads clearly violated intellectual property laws because Galliano never asked Klein’s permission to use the style, which the New York-born photographer developed more than a decade ago.”
The parallels to the case of a Vik Muniz fashion spread in The New York Times Style Magazine, which imitated the technique and the imagery of the artist Norman O. Mustill, are so close that it’s bizarre. Here’s some of the evidence one more time, as quoted from the original Muniz-Mustill item of March 13, 2006:
Exhibit A: On the left, Mustill (from 39 years ago). On the right, Muniz (from three months ago). In this case, notice the exact material: tree branches within a human form in the context of a fashion statement and the referential hand.
And that’s just Exhibit A.
Perhaps more bizarre than the “paraparallels” between Galliano-Klein and Muniz-Mustill is the fact that the dreadful former public editor of The Times never responded to my complaint. The editors of the NYT Style Magazine published the Muniz spread, undisturbed, and it’s too damned expensive to sue.
Without seeing the incriminating Galliano ad spread, which I can’t find online, I’m drawing conclusions based on words. If anybody has the spread, please let me or my staff of thousands know. It would be much appreciated. Here’s a more detailed explanation of the ruling, from Le Monde.