Appropriation or Homage? Feeback welcome (Just don't throw stones please, I bleed easily)

Initial statement when I posted this to Yahoo before Yahoo dropped videos made by seersucker suit wearers like me:

"When I first began experimenting making films out of my artwork and poetry I came across a product called Photoshow. This allowed me to create "fades" & other effects, while also utilizing captions. (At that point I was not savvy enough to figure out how to use a sound recorder and microphone.) I tried achieving the same thematic effect using windows movie maker, but have always been a bit torn about what was achieved originally, and only recently learned how to covert photoshow to avi. I thus present this film with (fingers crossed) the clarity of the original while still hoping to create a spiritual exchange between the art and the viewer.

Eventually I collected these short subtitled films onto a DVD entitled "Captioned Closeness"available for streaming via, "

What I wonder about now is how guilty I am of an "unconscious appropritation" since a number of the images in this fim were made by photographing the glass blue heart, an actual object, on images which changed given the effects of light flashing off of the heart or due to adobe effects I used. I mean, taken as a whole, where many of the images were directly created from my own surroundings/paintings to create the whole, I believe any "unconscious appropriation" ( I just loved how the blue heart looked against particular backgrounds and felt it was a symbol for the soul's journey through life) is outweighted by the fact that the entire, when combined with my original text, has created a different stand-alone piece of art, (pretentious, over-reaching or not.)

I welcome other members feedback on this work and my summation. I don't believe I'm at the artistic caliber to be selling anything in a Sotheby's price range and hence being sued, but if such a controversy could happen and one's name could be made (like being banned by the Church), I would like to know how other artists here feel they would handle it. Not having nerves of steel myself, I'm sure your insights would be beneficial.

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Comment by Stephen Mead on June 25, 2012 at 6:36am

Thank you, Ken.  Your questions have certainly given me a lot of food for thought!  I hadn't even thought about the music, which were royalty-free downloads I gave credit for, but I recall in the past using music on other projects and trying to track down composers/performers (if still alive), and how no one got back to me!  As far as the blue heart as an object I suppose someone must own a copyright on it somewhere though I just came across it at a local dollar store.  The adobe processes I was not worried about since they are meant to be used in making art and it's not as if painters should be worried about using a particular brand of brushes!  To my knowledge, no one has ever done any film in regards to a Blue Heart that mine tipped a hat to and this piece on YouTube was done roughly six years ago without any complaints regarding images, music, etc.  I believe I was just putting my question out there as a way of hearing/reading the views of other artists on the subject matter.


Thank you again for giving others who might read this blog a great deal to consider as well!

Comment by ken coleman on June 25, 2012 at 3:35am


 Just so I understand, when you say “I would like to know how other artists here feel they would handle it”  you’re talking about being named in a law suit or a cease-and-desist order?

If so and I received a cease-and-desist order, most likely I’d cease and desist (you have to choose your battles). If named in a law suit, I’d consult a lawyer regardless of whether I wanted to fight the charge or not.

I know of two situations in which cease-and-desist orders were received. One was for infringing on a name and the other was for using an image without permission. In both cases, the parties complied and that was the end of it. In the case of the image it meant removing the image from promotional materials and stopping selling or giving away any items using the image. 

Maybe it doesn’t make any difference as far as your question goes, but I’m not clear on what it is you’re concerned about appropriating (or not).

-- Is it because of your photos of the blue heart? Is the blue heart copyright protected? Has someone else made well-known images using blue hearts? 

--  Or is it because someone, somewhere, made a similar film that pre-dates yours and you’re worried about being charged with copyright violation of that film?

--  Or the music? Do you need/have permission to use that particular music in your film?

--  Or does it have something to do with pulling images/effects you created with one software program into another software program.

--  Something else entirely? 

Sorry to be such a pain-in-the-neck, I’m just not sure why you’re concerned.



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